GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The reeling Florida Gators (3-5, 3-4 SEC) close out SEC play on Saturday with a road game against South Carolina (6-3, 4-3). Kickoff is set for noon ET at Williams-Brice Stadium and the game will be televised on CBS.
The Gators are hoping to snap a four-game losing streak and keep alive their slim hopes for bowl eligibility. The Gamecocks want to shake off a 24-10 loss to No. 1 Georgia and get their first win against the Gators since 2014.
Florida beat writers Zach Abolverdi, Jordan McPherson and Ryan Young make their predictions for how the game on Saturday will unfold.
Abolverdi: It’s understandable why Gamecocks are favored
Believe it or not, Florida has a better offense and defense than South Carolina.
At least that’s what the stats say heading into the matchup between the Gators and Gamecocks. But anyone who watched both teams play last Saturday can understand why South Carolina is favored to win.
Florida’s season has been on a downward spiral since the homecoming loss to LSU, and the Gators were blown out in their last two games. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, jumped out to a 6-2 start before falling 24-10 to the nation’s No. 1 team.
Despite that loss to Georgia, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks trending up as a program and has an established quarterback in Jake Bentley. The Gators have fallen off this season and still haven’t solved their problems at QB.
Bentley should have success in the passing game against the UF secondary and South Carolina’s defensive scheme will cause fits for Florida.
McPherson: Will Muschamp will have his day
Florida is slowly slipping into 2013 territory here. A four-game losing streak surrounds a Gators team that is without its coach and is on the verge of potentially going 3-8.
If the Gators want to stop that from happening, they’ll need to find a way to beat their former coach in Will Muschamp, who has brought the South Carolina program to life in 2017. The Gamecocks are bowl eligible with three games left, their offense has made plays when they were needed.
Florida, on the other hand, has been outscored 123-56 over the last four games, capped by a 45-16 thrashing by Missouri in which the team had a noticeable lack of effort. That needs to be fixed immediately if Florida wants any hope of winning on Saturday.
If the Gators figure out a way to regroup and put everything that has impacted them this season in the rearview mirror, they could surprise and pull off the unexpected win.
In the end, though, I think Will Muschamp will have his day.
South Carolina, 30-14.
Young: It’s hard to see things changing Saturday
The real unknown here is whether Florida comes to play, whether linebacker David Reese’s comments resonated with his teammates, and whether this team can commit to these final few games.
It wasn’t there last week at Missouri and it resulted in a 29-point loss. The Gators won’t be able to sleep through this trip to South Carolina, either. The Gamecocks lost their best player (Deebo Samuel) early in the season, but they’ve turned the corner in their rebuild under second-year coach Will Muschamp — who is going to want very much to get a win over his former program.
Sticking with quarterback Malik Zaire was the right move for Florida. He at least brought some downfield passing element to the Gators, but there’s still so much missing.
The play calling remains the same issue it’s been for so long and now the defense isn’t there to cover for the offense.
It’s hard to see things changing Saturday. I’m taking South Carolina, 24-21.