COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina steps out of conference when it hosts Appalachian State on Senior Day Saturday, but this isn't a typical late-season breather that shows up on many SEC schedules. The Mountaineers spent three weeks in the Top 25 before a 24-21 loss to Georgia Southern on Oct. 31 snapped a 13-game winning streak and damaged their Sun Belt title chances, so the Gamecocks could be in for a fight.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: South Carolina -5
South Carolina's banged-up offense may be even thinner as senior running back Tavien Feaster, who leads the team with 625 yards and five touchdowns, is questionable to play because of a groin injury. It remains to be seen how Appalachian State regroups after rival Georgia Southern knocked it from the Top 25 for the second straight season. “It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for our guys, a great game for us to refocus and a great opponent to work toward this weekend,'' Mountaineers coach Eli Drinkwitz told reporters. "We’re excited about the opportunity.” Appalachian State's only other Power Five conference experience this season was a 34-31 victory at North Carolina on Sept. 21, while the Gamecocks lost to the Tar Heels 24-20 on Aug. 31 in Charlotte, N.C.
ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE (7-1)
Junior quarterback Zac Thomas (14 touchdowns, three interceptions) was 25-of-51 for 271 yards with three TDs against Georgia Southern and runs the No. 12 offense in the nation at 38.5 points per contest. Junior running back Darrynton Evans paces the club with 798 yards and 10 touchdowns but has scored once in his last four games. Senior linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither boasts team highs of 64 tackles, four passes defended and 2.5 sacks.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (4-5)
Senior wide receiver Bryan Edwards posted career highs with a school record-tying 14 catches and 139 yards and scored his fifth touchdown of the season in a 24-7 victory over Vanderbilt last week, and needs 88 yards to pass Alshon Jeffery (3,042) as the school’s receiving yards leader. Redshirt freshman running back Deshaun Fenwick made his season debut a memorable one with team bests of 102 yards on 18 carries last week and could shoulder the load again with Feaster ailing. Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski (10 TDs, three interceptions) has thrown for five scores without a pick in his last five games.
1. The Gamecocks are 16-1 against the Sun Belt with the Mountaineers prevailing 39-34 in 1975.
2. Saturday's contest is the first in a three-game contract that includes a 2025 meeting in Boone, N.C., and a 2027 encounter in Columbia, S.C.
3. Appalachian State is 22-11 on the road since joining the FBS in 2014.
PREDICTION: Appalachian State 27, South Carolina 24