South Carolina is looking to shake off the loss it suffered at the hands of Kentucky last weekend, but that’s easier said than done, considering it must now head to Athens and take on the Georgia Bulldogs.
South Carolina at No. 7 Georgia, Saturday 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Weather: 87 degrees at kickoff, zero percent chance of precipitation
Line: Georgia is favored by 16.5 points
Numbers to know:
*Athens, Ga., is never a welcoming environment for opposing teams and count South Carolina among them. In the Gamecocks’ 35 trips to Athens since the first game there between the two in 1900, they hold a paltry record of 8-27.
*Georgia tailback Nick Chubb has made a name for himself due to his ability to break almost any tackle and his incredible consistency. It’s why he’s constantly mentioned when discussing early-season Heisman Trophy candidates. The sophomore from Cedartown, Ga,. has rushed for at least 100 yards in his last 10 games dating back to last season. This past week against Vanderbilt, it only took him two quarters to extend the streak, rushing for 128 yards before halftime and finishing the game with 189 on an average of 9.95 yards per carry.
*The Georgia game is a homecoming for many on the South Carolina roster. The Gamecocks have 27 players who hail from the Peach State. Wideout Carlton Heard will have the biggest homecoming of all, considering the senior is from Athens.
*South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has spoken frequently of his team’s penalty problems heading into the Georgia game, and for good reason. The Gamecocks incurred three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Kentucky, including one that was called as South Carolina was about to score on the Kentucky goal line.
*History in the Georgia-South Carolina series belongs to the Bulldogs, who have an all-time record of 47-18-2 against the Gamecocks. But recent history is an entirely different matter. South Carolina won four of the last five meetings with the Bulldogs, including its 38-35 victory in Columbia last season.
Storylines to watch:
*USC’s QB carousel: South Carolina’s quarterback situation is, quite frankly, one big mess. Connor Mitch was named the starter, but a separated shoulder and gnarly bruised hip will keep him sidelined for a while. Next up is former walk-on and Publix bag boy Perry Orth. Orth was solid in relief of Mitch against Kentucky, going 13-for-20 for 179 yards and a touchdown, although he also threw a fourth quarter interception. Spurrier said to expect some reps from dual-threat true freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, who hasn’t thrown a pass this season, but has rushed twice for 40 yards. Spurrier may opt to play musical chairs at quarterback, subbing the two in and out until one asserts himself as the better option. If that happens, expect UGA linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins to have a field day and wreak havoc while the two quarterbacks search for a rhythm.
*Can Greyson Lambert step his game up?: Georgia joins South Carolina as a team with quarterback issues, although the Bulldogs’ aren’t as pronounced. After a solid showing in the season opener against UL-Monroe, Lambert, a Virginia transfer, seemed to lock himself in as the starter ahead of Brice Ramsey. But Lambert was downright pitiful in the first half against Vanderbilt, as he failed to complete a pass on any of his five attempts. And it wasn’t due to good defense from the Vanderbilt secondary. Lambert’s passes were consistently off-target, leading Georgia fans to ask the obvious question: “Why is a guy who lost the starting job at Virginia our starting quarterback?” It’s a good question, and the answer seems to be that all of Georgia’s quarterbacks are bad. Lambert did sort himself out somewhat in the second half, throwing for 116 yards. But another bad performance could cost Lambert his starting job. Then Georgia will have to move on to Ramsey: the guy who couldn’t beat out the failed Virginia quarterback to start the season. Not good. Not good, at all.
*Steve Spurrier vs. the world: There probably isn’t a college football personality in America that Georgia fans despise as much as Spurrier. I mean, just look at this dude:
And when Spurrier shows indifference to Georgia and its fans, it only makes them more irate. Dating back to his time at Florida, Spurrier is 16-6 against the Bulldogs, with an 11-1 record from his time with the Gators and a 5-5 record with the Gamecocks. The Head Ball Coach is usually up to throwing a few barbs at Georgia, but he’s been strangely quiet heading into this UGA matchup. Knowing Spurrier, it could be some big reverse psychology Jedi mind trick. Or Spurrier could’ve realized that this Georgia team is much better than this South Carolina team, and a loss will be much less embarrassing if he doesn’t shoot his mouth off in the week leading up to it.
My prediction: Georgia 34, South Carolina 24