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South Carolina has no plan to look past Kentucky

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

This sounds familiar. A South Carolina team with a top 10 ranking goes on the road to face an unranked Kentucky team and statistics tell us that top 10 team should win handily.

That almost happened two seasons ago. Emphasis on almost.

In 2010, the No. 10 Gamecocks, coming off a win over No. 1 Alabama in Columbia, head up to Kentucky in what should be an easy victory.

For a while, it seemed that was the case. South Carolina shot up to a 28-10 lead over the Wildcats in the first half and it seemed they would easily score more in the second thanks to running back Marcus Lattimore.

Only they didn't. Not one more score. Kentucky quickly took advantage with running back Randall Cobb and a fourth down touchdown and two point conversion in the closing minutes of the game and beat the Gamecocks in Lexington, 31-28.

In 2012, the No. 6 Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC) are hoping that history does not repeat itself. 

Coming off a convincing win at home against the Missouri Tigers, South Carolina heads to Kentucky (1-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday for another SEC East match up.

The Wildcats are seeking any kind of momentum moving forward after losing to Western Kentucky in overtime two weeks ago and getting blanked by the Florida Gators last week.

Kentucky's quarterback, Maxwell Smith, missed the Florida game last week thanks to a separated shoulder.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips started senior Morgan Newton against the Gators, but he threw three interceptions in the 38-0 loss.

Phillips benched Newton and replaced him with true freshman Jalen Whitlow. He's only completed one pass this season. If Smith isn't ready to go this weekend, Phillips may go with the freshman.

As for South Carolina, the Gamecocks are wading further into their deep SEC schedule.

The Gamecocks also look to get back free safety DJ Swearinger, who was suspended during the Missouri game because of an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on a UAB player.

Swearinger is one of Carolina's top defensive playmakers. He has not only intercepted the ball, but he even returned a touchdown during the UAB game. But Swearinger will have to adjust his hits in games to avoid another suspension.

"I won't stop playing how I play, but I'll adjust my targeting a little. No matter what the circumstances are, I'm just going to play my game regardless, so I won't be overexcited, I'll just be ready to play football again," said Swearinger.

Also set to return in limited action is cornerback Akeem Auguste, who sat out for the first few games of this season because of a groin injury.

"Now you've got depth, you've got experience. I've played a lot of football, I've played against Georgia four years in a row, Tennessee, all those games. I've played against the best. It's really just me knowing what I know and just focusing in on everything. I think it's just being ready, so anything can happen. Anybody can go down. I've just got to be mentally ready and physically ready," Auguste said.

With two crucial pieces of the defense returning, South Carolina is looking for a little more magic on offense after QB Connor Shaw managed an efficient game last Saturday against the Tigers.

Shaw completed 20 of 21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, Shaw started his first full game against Kentucky and threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the 54-3 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium.

With a tough stretch of SEC games coming up, the Gamecocks are looking to keep forward momentum in their corner.

That momentum could be crucial as Georgia and the East's biggest showdown is just a week away.

The Kentucky game starts at 7 p.m. Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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