NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Thursday's Game
No. 9 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: South Carolina by 6 1/2
Series Record: South Carolina leads 17-4
WHAT'S AT STAKE
For South Carolina, a win is a must to keep the goal of a Southeastern Conference title alive past the opener. Coach Steve Spurrier is 17-2 all-time against Vanderbilt and 22-1 in season openers. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin can start off his second season by backing up his bold talk since arriving on campus and justify all the money being spent on upgrades and his pay raise.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore against Vanderbilt's defense. Lattimore will be wearing a knee brace in his return from a torn ACL, but he had 818 yards rushing in only seven games. Vanderbilt ranked 36th nationally in 2011 allowing 123 yards rushing per game and held Lattimore to 77 yards rushing in a 21-3 win by the Gamecocks last season. The Commodores also allowed Lattimore to rack up 73 yards receiving.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South Carolina: QB Connor Shaw. The junior has won eight of his nine career starts and completed 66.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,671 yards and 16 TDs. He also has run for 690 yards with 8 TDs, but now it's his job as the starter.
Vanderbilt: QB Jordan Rodgers. The quarterback best known as Aaron Rodgers' little brother started the last seven games in 2011, and he easily held off Austyn Carta-Samuels this year. He led Vanderbilt with 1,944 yards total offense last season, but he completed only 50 percent of his passes and had one more interception (10) than TD passes (9).
FACTS & FIGURES
South Carolina finished second in the SEC East last season and went 11-2 overall. ... The Gamecocks start the season with their highest ranking in school history. ... Spurrier is 55-35 at South Carolina and 197-75-2 all-time. ... Spurrier has lost only one season opener, 27-21 to South Carolina while he coached at Duke on Sept. 2, 1989. ... Vanderbilt is looking for its second straight win in an season opener and SEC opener. The Commodores have not won SEC openers in consecutive seasons since 1957 and 1958. ... The Commodores have not opened against an SEC team since 2004, and they lost that game to South Carolina 31-6. ... Vanderbilt has not beaten an SEC team in the season opener at home since 1988 with a win over Mississippi State. ... Vanderbilt has 18 returning starters, tied for second-highest in the SEC behind Tennessee and Florida (19).