Originally created 10/27/01

Team that celebrates after South Carolina-Tennessee in good position



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After Tennessee rallied to beat South Carolina last year with 26 seconds left, some of the Volunteers celebrated by grabbing the cheerleaders' big orange flag and parading it across the Gamecocks' field.

If No. 12 South Carolina (6-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) breaks its current eight-game losing streak to ninth-ranked Tennessee (4-1, 3-1) - and wins for the first ever in Knoxville on Saturday - the team certainly will celebrate. But not likely with the big garnet and black Gamecock flag.

"I don't think any of our guys would do that," South Carolina receiver Brian Scott said. "It would be a big win, but we're going to celebrate with class and not try and show anybody up or nothing like that."

The Vols already have had another team savor a win at Neyland Stadium by stomping on the orange T at midfield.

Tennessee lost to Georgia three weeks ago and rebounded last week with a win over Alabama. South Carolina beat Georgia and has lost only at Arkansas.

Who gets to celebrate on Saturday - in whatever way they choose - is the important thing.

With the SEC East crowded with four teams that have just one conference loss and Florida and Georgia also playing, losing Saturday will put two teams in a bigger hole.

"The thought of losing doesn't come to any player's mind right now," Tennessee tailback Travis Stephens said. "We know we have a good chance to win outright now and go to the SEC championship."

Both teams still have Florida left on their schedules.

South Carolina nearly ended its losing streak to Tennessee last year in Columbia. But quarterback Casey Clausen led the Vols on a game-winning drive capped by Travis Henry's 1-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left.

Defensive end Will Overstreet sealed it by sacking South Carolina quarterback Phil Petty.

Then the Gamecocks lost their last two games against Florida and Clemson.

Petty said last year's finish doesn't put any more pressure on the Gamecocks for this season's final stretch, called the Orange Crush. Tennessee is their last road game.

"We just want to go out and play well. When two great teams play, one team's got to win and one's got to lose," he said. "We know we can be on either side of that fence. When you prepare hard, that takes the pressure off of you because you know that you're ready."

South Carolina and Tennessee are both coming off confidence-boosting wins.

After losing 10-7 at Arkansas, the Gamecocks responded by beating Vanderbilt 46-14. Petty, who had been replaced in the second half against Arkansas by backup Corey Jenkins, completed 13 of 21 passes for 208 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Backs Derek Watson and Andrew Pinnock each had 105 yards rushing and a touchdown. Vanderbilt's offense was limited to just eight first downs and 194 total yards.

Tennessee had an impressive day against Alabama.

The Vols' offense came alive with options galore for Clausen, who was named the SEC offensive player of the week.

Tailback Travis Stephens, who leads the SEC in rushing and all-purpose yards per game, had his fourth 100-yard game of the season.

Receivers Donte Stallworth, playing for the first time since breaking his left wrist, and Kelley Washington, playing with a sore left foot, got the attention of Alabama's defenders and left the rest of the field open for tight end Jason Witten.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder caught a career-high seven catches for 91 yards.

"I'm excited about what we did last Saturday and what we can do as far as the rest of the season goes," Clausen said.

Fulmer said Tennessee will have to defend well when South Carolina returns kickoffs because Watson leads the SEC in averaging 36.2 yards a return.

The Vols also are concerned about senior linebacker Kalimba Edwards. He returned an interception for a touchdown in last year's game and leads the team in tackles.

"A darn good player," Tennessee offensive tackle Reggie Coleman said of him. "We're definitely going to have to account for him."

And South Carolina will have to account for Tennessee's defense against the run, which still leads the league in allowing just 70.8 yards a game.

"I don't know how we will be able to move the ball on Tennessee," Holtz said.

On the Net:

South Carolina football: http://www.uscsports.com

Tennessee football: http://www.utsports.com