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Texas A&M102114752
So Carolina7714028
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28


(21) Texas A&M (0-0) at (9) South Carolina (0-0)



Thursday, August 28, 6 p.m. (ET)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The FBS season kicks off with a bang on Thursday night with a marquee SEC showdown right out of the gate, as the ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the 21st-ranked Texas A&M Aggies to Williams-Brice Stadium.

Texas A&M finished 9-4 last season (4-4 in the SEC), but its downfall ultimately came in its inability to defeat the conference's best, losing a marquee shootout with Alabama (49-42), dropping a contest with eventual SEC champion Auburn (45-41) and closing out the regular season with back-to-back road losses at LSU (34-10) and Missouri (28-21).

The Aggies accepted a bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, their fifth straight bowl game, and in their typical high-scoring fashion they were able to hold off Duke with a 52-48 triumph. The squad finished the season ranked No. 18 in the AP poll and is 20-6 in two seasons under head coach Kevin Sumlin.

The Gamecocks dug themselves a hole early in the season by dropping their SEC opener at Georgia on Sept. 7, 41-30. From there they responded with four straight wins before being upset by Tennessee on Oct. 19, 23-21, which effectively ended their title chances.

Instead of rolling over after a tough defeat, South Carolina grew stronger over the second half of the season, ending the campaign with six straight wins, including a 27-24 double overtime victory at Missouri and a 31-17 triumph versus bitter rival Clemson. It accepted a bid to the Capital One Bowl, dismissing Wisconsin (34-24) for its third straight bowl win, and it finished the campaign No. 4 in the final AP Poll.

This marks the first-ever meeting between the Aggies and the Gamecocks.

The Aggies had one of the nation's most prolific offenses last season, ranking fifth in the country in scoring (44.2 ppg) and fourth in yardage (538.4 ypg), but the majority of that production came thanks to the production of Johnny Manziel. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time First-Team All-SEC selection shined last season by completing 69.9 percent of his passes for 4,114 yards with 37 touchdowns while also causing havoc on the ground (759 yards, nine TDs).

With Manziel now suiting up for the Cleveland Browns, Texas A&M will turn to Kenny Hill (16-of-22, 183 yards, TD last season) as the starter after he beat out true freshman Kyle Allen in camp.

"The competition was close and that competition will continue to help us improve," Sumlin said, "I have talked to both quarterbacks as well as the team and we will prepare with Kenny getting the first-team reps."

The squad will also have to deal with the departure of Mike Evans, who was one of the nation's most dominant receivers a year ago with 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 scores. Malcome Kennedy (60 receptions, 658 yards, seven TDs) will serve as one of the top options, and former top recruit Ricky Seals- Jones, who suffered a season-ending injury early in 2013, also has high expectations.

In the backfield, Ben Malena (551 yards, 10 TDs) is gone as well, but with the combination of Trey Williams (407 yards, six TDs) and Tra Carson (329 yards, seven TDs), the running game appears to be in good hands, especially with four starters along the offensive line returning.

With such a high-flying offensive attack last season, the Aggies' clear downfall was the poor play of its defense, which allowed 32.2 ppg and 475.8 ypg (last in the SEC and 111th nationally), but the good news is that, unlike the offense, the defense has plenty of returning continuity with seven starters coming back.

The Aggies struggled with the pass rush a season ago, and they are in even worse shape than they figured, as last year's leading sack artist Gavin Stansbury (47 tackles, 3.0 sacks) left the program for personal reasons in July. Defensive tackle Alonzo Williams (27 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and linebacker Shaan Washington (3.0 sacks) are the only returning players who have experience getting pressure on the quarterback.

Luckily the team returns all four starters in the secondary in cornerbacks Deshazor Everett (73 tackles, two INTs) and De'Vante Harris (56 tackles, INT) and safeties Howard Matthews (90 tackles, three INTs) and Floyd Raven (38 tackles).

The Gamecocks had a very efficient offense a season ago, putting up 34.1 ppg and 452.3 ypg. A big reason for the unit's strong play was the presence of senior quarterback Connor Shaw (.634 completion percentage, 2,447 passing yards, 24 TDs, INT, 558 rushing yards, six TDs). Despite his departure, the offense will enjoy plenty of continuity with eight returning starters.

Incumbent quarterback Dylan Thompson gained valuable experience playing behind Shaw the last few years and saw a decent amount of playing time in 2012 and 2013 (18 total TDs). Spurrier is confident that Thompson is ready to take on full-time duties under center.

"We really believe he's a very good player and has a chance to lead us to a big season," Spurrier said. "He's a fifth-year player. He's been to all the games. He's 3-0 as a starter. He was the only quarterback in the nation to beat UCF (last season). He's got to pack his college career into one season, and he's the type of young man who really wants to make the most of it."

The presence of Mike Davis in the backfield will take plenty of pressure off of Thompson. Davis was a work horse as a sophomore with 203 carries for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 34 receptions for 352 yards.

In the absence of Bruce Ellington (49 receptions, 775 yards, eight TDs), there will be more targets in the passing game to go around for Damiere Byrd (34 receptions, 575 yards, four TDs), Nick Jones (27 receptions, 281 yards, five TDs) and Shaq Roland (25 receptions, 455 yards, five TDs), as well as Davis coming out of the backfield.

South Carolina has been known for its great defense over the past two seasons, and while the unit wasn't quite dominant in 2013, it was still impressive in allowing just 20.3 ppg and 350.0 ypg while forcing 30 turnovers. Losing All- American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney certainly doesn't help (other important pieces from last season Kelcy Quarles, Jimmy Legree and Victor Hampton are also gone), but there's still a lot of talent for Spurrier and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to work with.

All three starting linebackers are back in the fold. Skai Moore led the team with 56 tackles and four interceptions, while Kaiwan Lewis (54 tackles, two INTs) and Sharrod Golightly (47 tackles, 6.0 TFL, two FR) were solid as well. Marquis Roberts (48 tackles) was also a big factor as just a freshman.

Brison Williams (45 tackles, INT) is the only returning starter in the secondary. Senior Sidney Rhodes is the veteran member of the defensive back clan that boasts three sophomores and six freshmen.

Darius English and Gerald Dixon Jr. saw limited action as freshmen last year playing behind Clowney and Quarles but will have their chance to shine this season stepping into the starting lineup.

Texas A&M, while still very talented, will need to get used to life after Johnny Football, and heading into hostile territory against a loaded South Carolina team is not an ideal way to kick off a new era. The Aggies should make it a game, but the Gamecocks will ultimately be too much to handle.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Carolina 34, Texas A&M 24

08/27 17:00:54 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
Final
NYI 3
CAR 5
Final
DUKE 73
SYR 54
Final
WAS 99
DET 95
Final
MIA 91
ATL 93
Final
NYK 103
TOR 98
Final
MIN 97
MEM 101
Final
DAL 94
BRK 104
Final
UTA 82
MIL 75
 
Final
PHO 74
SAN 101
Final
LIP 94
KNST 75
 
Final
GHND 47
NAVY 57
 
Final
LAF 74
ARMY 64
 
Final
AMER 69
BUCK 71
 
Final
UCF 66
ECU 71
Final
STJ 81
GEOR 70
Final
CLEM 70
GT 63
Final
COL 61
LEH 55
 
Final
FSU 59
LOU 81
Final
MD 66
MICH 56
Final
UGA 68
MIZZ 44
Final
BC 79
NCSU 63
Final
LAS 56
RIU 59
Final
UNH 65
MAINE 56
 
Final
IUPUI 80
NEOM 87
 
Final
WINT 80
PBY 53
 
Final
VMI 69
SAMF 80
 
Final
CITA 54
WCU 67
 
Final
DEP 53
BUT 67
Final
LONG 70
CAMP 65
 
Final
TULA 47
CIN 63
Final
VCU 55
DAY 59
Final
TOWS 60
DEL 65
 
Final
WMARY 66
DREX 80
 
Final
JVU 75
FLGC 67
 
Final
EVAN 67
ILLST 69
 
Final
BRAD 52
INDST 60
 
Final
MIAMI 64
UNC 73
Final
WICHS 74
NIOWA 60
Final
UWGB 83
OU 63
 
Final
LSU 73
MISS 63
Final
OKLA 67
TCU 60
Final
BING 76
UMBC 69
 
Final
AFA 60
UTST 74
Final
GTDNS 79
VERM 73
 
Final
XAV 66
VILL 78
Final
MNTER 74
WAGN 64
 
Final
ILLCH 61
WRST 46
 
Final
YALE 90
SARAHLAW 55
 
Final
UAB 100
MTST 95
Final
NDAK 65
SUTAH 71
 
Final
LIB 77
UNCA 95
 
Final
CHIST 65
WLVRN 44
 
Final
UMO 57
BGU 62
 
Final
SHU 84
LIU 73
 
Final
APP 66
LAMON 43
 
Final
VANDY 73
ALA 66
Final
KENT 84
ARK 67
Final
NCCU 72
COOK 49
 
Final
MRGST 77
COPST 88
 
Final
SHU 67
CREI 66
Final
BONA 92
DUQ 75
Final
MERC 69
ETST 64
 
Final
UMASS 82
FORD 74
Final
RAD 72
GWEBB 62
 
Final
JMU 82
HOF 73
 
Final
BU 70
HC 77
 
Final
KYST 70
ISU 69
Final
DELST 65
MDES 69
 
Final
LOYC 65
MIZST 51
 
Final
IDAHO 80
MNTST 73
 
Final
MCNST 83
NICST 78
 
Final
TTU 63
OKST 62
Final
PORT 66
SDU 78
 
Final
BRY 61
Terriers 51
 
Final
RMU 71
RFLSH 70
 
Final
UVA 69
VT 57
Final
BAY 78
WVU 66
Final
FUR 60
WOFF 62
 
Final
SILL 63
DRAK 57
 
Final
FD 73
CCST 66
 
Final
WMICH 80
EMICH 72
 
Final
CSOU 97
HIGH 93
 
Final
UNCG 58
CHAT 61
 
Final
SD 80
SDKST 64
 
Final
CARK 74
SELA 72
 
Final
KU 69
TEX 64
Final
EWASH 76
MONT 77
 
Final
TROY 64
UGST 75
 
Final
TXST 70
ARKST 60
 
Final
UNT 57
ODU 70
Final
CORN 45
DART 56
 
Final
NCAT 77
FAM 65
 
Final
PSU 77
IOWA 81
Final
MORE 87
JVST 55
 
Final
PEPP 65
LMU 49
 
Final
SCAR 81
MSST 68
Final
BRO 62
PRIN 80
 
Final
NEV 62
SJST 51
Final
SCST 57
SAV 68
 
Final
BEL 88
TENST 62
 
Final
UF 66
TENN 49
Final
ALAST 49
TXSOU 58
 
Final
SOUTH 71
ALCOR 63
 
Final
JST 73
MVSU 49
 
Final
SEMIZ 89
PEAY 65
 
Final
TOL 70
BST 59
 
Final
KSU 65
BUF 71
 
Final
LBSU 70
CSFU 47
 
Final
MARS 79
FATL 63
Final
STLU 50
GMAS 78
Final
DAVID 77
GWU 66
Final
CLMB 70
HARV 80
 
Final
LAM 79
INCWORD 66
 
Final
YOUNG 74
UWMIL 82
 
Final
ELON 74
UNCW 55
 
Final
ILL 86
NW 60
Final
YALE 55
PENN 50
 
Final
STJOE 57
RICH 63
Final
UNF 86
STET 71
 
Final
HART 59
USB 74
 
Final
DUKE 73
SYR 54
Final
EKENT 70
TENT 67
 
Final
LATU 76
TXSA 66
Final
NKENTUCKY 84
USCU 65
 
Final
MAST 84
WILL 64
 
Final
UMKC 70
GRCN 65
 
Final
NO 75
ABCHRIST 55
 
Final
TENNM 67
MURST 73
 
Final
HOW 67
HAMP 68
 
Final
ALAAM 72
PVU 75
 
Final
SDST 46
BSU 56
Final
NILL 73
CMICH 55
 
Final
RICE 76
CHAR 77
Final
ORU 60
DEN 57
 
Final
WKENT 77
FIU 61
 
8:00pm Tonight
TXPA 0
NMST 0
 
Final
COC 56
NE 65
 
Final
SCU 71
GAELS 70
 
Final
HOUB 87
STEPH 102
 
Final
SMISS 63
UTEP 60
Final
MEM 72
TULSA 74
Final
UNLV 69
WYO 57
Final
TXARL 82
ARKLR 73
 
Final
TEXAM 80
AUB 55
Final
LALAF 68
GSOUT 58
 
Final
ARKPB 66
GRAM 57
 
Final
TAMCC 61
SHSU 59
 
Final
UTAH 57
ARZ 63
Final
NCOL 76
NARZ 74
 
2nd
GONZ 54
BYU 62
 
2nd
WEBER 58
IDST 57
 
2nd
FRES 49
NMU 43
 
2nd
USF 62
PAC 52
 
2nd
CPSL 52
UCD 66
 
Final
PORST 60
SACST 73
 
2nd
SEAT 30
CALST 20
 
2nd
CSNO 40
UCR 36
 
2nd
USC 38
WASH 27
 
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
UCI
 
Final
FLA 5
BUF 3
Final
NAS 3
DET 4
Final
NYI 3
CAR 5
Final
CLB 0
NJD 2
Final
BOS 4
ARI 1
Final
MON 4
TOR 0
Final
PHI 4
NYR 2
2nd Intermission
COL 1
MIN 2
 
2nd Intermission
SJS 2
OTT 1
 
2nd Intermission
EDM 1
STL 1