#9 South Carolina Gamecocks at Vanderbilt Commodores – Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville TN
7:00 pm Eastern, ESPN
The Ole Ball Coach Steve Spurrier will kick-off the 2012 NCAA football season against a Vanderbilt team on an upswing.
Now that Connor Shaw is solely in the driver’s seat as quarterback of the Gamecocks, Shaw’s productivity should improve even more from 2011 when he completed 65.4% of his passes while throwing for 1443 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The junior signal caller will be without his top target Alshon Jeffery from a year ago, but the return of Marcus Lattimore, one of the nation’s most talented rushers, from a season-ending knee injury suffered against Mississippi State last season will keep the Vandy defense, who lost their three best defensive players from last year’s squad, on its toes.
South Carolina will be without its best defensive player from 2011, Melvin Ingram, but Jadeveon Clowney is one of the most prolific defensive ends in the country and will strike just as much fear against the Commodore O-Line as Ingram did a year ago.
Vanderbilt is coming off a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati in the Autozone Liberty Bowl in the Commodores’ first bowl appearance since 2008.
Led by senior Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt needs their second-year quarterback to orchestrate a stellar passing performance against an inexperienced Gamecock secondary. A year more mature as a QB, with a veteran offensive line and two excellent receivers (Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd), Rodgers can also lean on Zac Stacy to carry the ball for a balanced offense.
Vanderbilt is a talented football team with a second-year coach, James Franklin, who has rejuvenated the ‘Dores but that all may be too much against an outstanding South Carolina team, who plays equally as well on the road.