COLUMBIA, S.C. — After three games, UCF (0-3) and South Carolina (1-2) are spiraling downward and looking to take a step in the winning direction. Both will be looking to turn things around today when they square at Williams-Brice Stadium.
With both in need of a positive spark, this could be aptly dubbed the Desperation Bowl
UCF is last in offense in Division I-A and was beaten at home last week by I-AA Furman. South Carolina followed a 26-22 home loss to Kentucky by getting rolled, 52-20, at Georgia last week.
Just two years ago when these teams met, they were among the best in college football with a combined 23-3 mark.
"Yeah, I think we were the only ones to beat them," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier recalled of UCF's 12-1 mark in 2013.
Those teams were led by two of the NFL's top three draft picks in spring 2014 — South Carolina by the No. 1 pick, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney; UCF by the No. 3 pick, quarterback Blake Bortles.
UCF coach George O'Leary can't worry about the players he had, just about improving the ones he has now. He said the Knights have struggled at finishing games and scoring, averaging just 12 points a game. But the Gamecocks rank last in the SEC in points given up (more than 30 per game).
"I think that's the issue right there, and obviously the game this week is a typical SEC team," O'Leary said. "We're going to have to play a lot better than we did the first three games."
Linebacker T.J. Holloman is expected to start and coordinator Jon Hoke said other options might be looked at among safeties and cornerbacks for the Gamecocks.
UCF will be without its top running back and South Carolina might join in that predicament. The Knights dismissed William Stanback this week for what the school said was a continual violation of team rules. The Gamecocks might be without leading rusher Brandon Wilds (bruised ribs). Spurrier said backup Shon Carson would start at tailback.
CINCINNATI: Quarterback Gunner Kiel, who was taken to the hospital after taking a hard shoulder-to-shoulder hit in the first quarter during Thursday's 53-46 loss at Memphis, was released and accompanied the team back to Cincinnati, sports information director Ryan Koslen said. Kiel started the game after sustaining a mild concussion the previous week. Freshman Hayden Moore replaced Kiel and passed for a school-record 557 yards and threw four touchdowns Thursday. The Bearcats gained 752 yards to break the school record of 711 set against Connecticut in 2009. They also set school marks with 38 first downs and 100 total plays.
OHIO STATE: Coach Urban Meyer made it clear that Cardale Jones is still his starting quarterback despite two consecutive shaky starts. "He's the guy," Meyer said. "Unless he doesn't perform well." College football's most interesting quarterback competition continues today when the top-ranked Buckeyes face Western Michigan. Jones was relieved in the second quarter of last week's tense victory against Northern Illinois by J.T. Barrett, who led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record last season before breaking his right ankle. Barrett wasn't effective either, and after the game Meyer called the offense "discombobulated." On Wednesday, he said the offense was "in a funk."
TEAFF HOSPITALIZED: Former Baylor coach Grant Teaff was hospitalized after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. Teaff, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, was recovering Friday at Providence Health Center in Waco. AFCA spokesman Vince Thompson said Teaff, 81, was resting in the intensive care unit, being treated with blood thinners, and will remain hospitalized until the clots are gone. Teaff said Thursday that he drove himself to the hospital after blacking out Monday while walking to his car at his office near campus.