South Carolina and Georgia will play this weekend, even if the kickoff changed from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon.
The Gamecocks and Bulldogs are scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium after Hurricane Matthew forced the postponement. But the matchup remains the same. We take a closer look:
When South Carolina is on offense …
It’s back to the two-quarterback system for South Carolina after Perry Orth breathed life into an offense that needed it. So Orth and freshman Brandon McIlwain will play Sunday.
But the most important offensive news comes elsewhere. South Carolina is expected to have Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel back at wide receiver. The pair’s return gives the Gamecocks the deep threats it lacked in recent weeks. Combine their return with the way Hayden Hurst has played of late and South Carolina now has a lot more weapons on offense.
Running back Rico Dowdle made a great first impression against Texas A&M. The talented freshman will play along with A.J. Turner and David Williams, as another option in the run game. That element could matter greatly if the weather remains unfavorable Sunday.
Georgia’s defensive line has not generated a lot of pressure this season, which is as much a product of the offenses it has played as anything. South Carolina’s offensive line will have to rise to the occasion, but the biggest matchup comes against the Georgia secondary.
The Bulldogs are forcing a lot of turnovers and getting their hands on a lot of passes. South Carolina will have to be wary of that.
Key matchup: South Carolina wide receivers vs. Georgia secondary
Key Gamecock: Hayden Hurst
Overall advantage: Georgia defense
When South Carolina is on defense …
South Carolina is coming off what has to be its best defensive performance of the season against the best offense it had seen. It went up against a dynamic Texas A&M unit – down a pair of wide receivers – and limited it to well below season averages, especially in allowing only 24 points.
But the Gamecocks want to get better and do more, which coach Will Muschamp expects. The test this time flips back to more of a traditional offense than the (mostly) spread teams South Carolina has faced for four straight weeks.
Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are talented running backs, and Isaiah McKenzie is a versatile playmaker at wide receiver. That’s where the biggest challenge will be for the Gamecocks, especially if Chubb comes back nicely to health and his usual form.
USC had good success stopping Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb, the SEC’s leading rusher, in Week 1, but didn’t fare as well against Kentucky’s Boom Williams and Benny Snell. The Gamecocks surely will be pressing to limit the run and put the pressure on Georgia freshman quarterback Jacob Eason.
Eason has been decent thus far with clear signs he could be a very good one in his career. But as South Carolina knows, having a true freshman quarterback means ups and downs.
Key matchup: South Carolina linebackers vs. Georgia running backs
Key Gamecock: T.J. Holloman
Overall advantage: Push