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‘SEC Nation’ predictions are blue-heavy, but not everyone is picking UK over USC

·4 min read

SEC Network crews set up for a South Carolina gameday in Columbia.

“SEC Nation,” the TV network’s college football preview show featuring Laura Rutledge, Roman Harper, Paul Finebaum, Tim Tebow and Jordan Rodgers, is broadcasting live from the University of South Carolina campus’ iconic Horseshoe ahead of the Gamecocks’ SEC matchup with Kentucky on Saturday night.

South Carolina (2-1, 0-1 SEC) will host their conference home opener against Kentucky (3-0, 1-0 SEC) in Williams-Brice Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday, but ESPN and SEC Network personalities have been in town since Friday.

Harper, Tebow and Rodgers all selected Kentucky to win over South Carolina.

Finebaum picked the Gamecocks.

“You know what I think? I’ve been here for 24 hours. I’m on the Shane train,” Finebaum announced to an excited crowd.

When the “SEC Nation” crew analyzed the game earlier Saturday morning, Rodgers said USC starting quarterback Luke Doty’s mobility, establishing the run and getting tight ends involved in the offense will be important factors against the Wildcats’ defense. Tebow agreed.

“I think you hit the key of the game,” Tebow said. “That’s Luke Doty’s legs. I don’t think they win it any other way.”

Tebow continued to say a win for South Carolina at home against Kentucky would be important for the Gamecocks’ and Shane Beamer in his first year at the helm.

“I don’t think this roster is very deep, I don’t think this roster is very talented, to be super honest,” Tebow said to a chorus of boos from the crowd. “But I feel like you have a coach that everybody likes, that everybody’s cheering for, that they can rally around. If Shane can find a way to get some momentum, to buy in more belief, and then this next year, have a good recruiting class, I think you could see something special starting to develop here.”

A swarm of USC fans dressed in garnet and black ascended to the set Saturday morning, and many brought signs to cheer on the Gamecocks, some with plenty of humor. Of the highlights:

  • “We want Jadyn Davis” — in reference to class of 2024 four-star quarterback prospect from Fort Mill’s Catawba Ridge High School

  • “Cocks by Ninety”

  • “Shane Storm”

  • “The Shane Train doesn’t stop for lousy Wildcats”

  • “Hey Kentucky, you ain’t going nowhere!”

  • “Where’d your hair go, Paul?!”

  • “At least we’re not Vanderbilt”

Tebow, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Florida, and Rodgers, a former Vanderbilt quarterback, met with local media members Friday afternoon to discuss Shane Beamer’s impact on the Gamecocks’ football program.

Finebaum hosted his TV and radio show from the Horseshoe on Friday afternoon. Finebaum interviewed Beamer, women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and men’s basketball coach Frank Martin.

On Saturday morning, ESPN analyst Marty Smith and senior writer Ryan McGee went live from the Horseshoe for their preview show, “Marty and McGee.” The two hosted South Carolina Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and Staley on their show.

Staley brought her beloved dog Champ with her to the interview. Champ sat calmly beside her on a couch while a Buckeye rooster named Driveway was nearby in a small chicken pen.

“Luckily we didn’t have any animal throwdowns up here, right?” McGee joked after the segment. “That’s what I was a little worried about.”

South Carolina’s live mascot, Sir Big Spur, was shown on camera atop his remote-controlled “Roost Roller” on the TV program. Driveway, the rooster provided by Joe and Amanda Jones from Doko Farm in Blythewood later made his own game prediction on “Marty and McGee.” Faced with two bowls to eat from — one marked South Carolina and the other Kentucky — Driveway pecked from the USC bowl.

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