Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - SEC Eastern Division rivals square off in
Gainesville this Saturday, as the ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks come
calling on the third-ranked Florida Gators.
South Carolina had opened the season a stellar 6-0, but suffered a 23-21 loss
at LSU last weekend to fall into second place in the SEC East behind
undefeated Florida. The Gamecocks, who had won a school-record 10 straight
games dating back to last season, already have a win over rival Georgia under
their belt, so a victory over the Gators this week will keep their hopes of
reaching the SEC Championship Game alive. USC is coached by Steve Spurrier,
who had his greatest success both as a player and coach at Florida.
Florida is 6-0 for the third time in the last six years, and the eighth time
in school history. In both 1996 and 2006 when the Gators started as quickly,
they won the national championship so there is reason for excitement. The
Gators beat Vanderbilt (31-17) for the 22nd consecutive time last week, and
they were awarded the second slot in the initial BCS rankings as a result. UF
appears to have a shot at making the SEC title tilt should they get past the
Gamecocks this week, and Georgia next.
Florida leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 23-6-3, and has won 12
of the previous 13 meetings in Gainesville. UF is 17-3 against USC since the
Gamecocks started playing in the SEC back in 1992. South Carolina has won the
last two meetings however, including a 17-12 decision last year in Columbia.
In 2010, the Gamecocks claimed their first-ever win in Gainesville, taking a
The Gamecocks failed to establish a ground presence in last week's loss to
LSU, but that's not surprising considering the Tigers possess one of the
stingiest defenses in the nation. USC running back Marcus Lattimore was held
to 35 yards on 13 carries, although he did score a TD. As for QB Connor Shaw,
he threw for 177 yards and two scores, but was picked off twice and sacked
four times. Ace Sanders led the receiving corps with five grabs for 49 yards
and a TD, but USC finished with only 211 total yards compared to 407 for the
Spurrier cited the running game for both teams, and LSU's defense as the major
contributors to USC suffering its first loss of the season.
"They were running much better than we thought they would. We didn't run it
here as well as we hoped we would. That was probably the huge difference in
the game right there," He continued, "We've played some good defenses, but
they're really good. They were really good tonight."
South Carolina comes into this contest averaging 34.1 ppg, and while far from
flashy, balance is the order of the day as the team runs for 160.4 ypg and
throws for another 217.9 ypg. Of the 30 TDs credited to the offense, 14 have
come on the ground and 16 through the air. Lattimore is the team's leading
rusher (584 yards, 10 TDs) and receiver (22 receptions), while Shaw has hit
the mark on 69.4 percent of his passes for 910 yards, nine TDs and four
The Gamecocks defense did an admirable job against the pass (148 yards, one
interception) last week, but was gashed for 258 rushing yards by the Tigers,
who averaged nearly five yards per carry. Shaq Wilson recorded a career-high
14 tackles with a sack to pace the unit, while D.J. Swearinger and Victor
Hampton tallied 10 tackles apiece.
USC is giving up just 12.3 ppg behind typical outputs of only 108.7 ypg
rushing and 187.6 ypg passing. Wilson leads the team with 44 stops, and he has
a pair of picks to his credit as well. Jadeveon Clowney owns 6.5 of the team's
league-leading 26 sacks, while Chaz Sutton has taken down the opposing
quarterback four times.
Jeff Driskel rushed for 177 yards, the most ever by a Florida quarterback, and
scored three TDs to power the Gators to their recent win over Vanderbilt. When
the dust had settled in a game that featured a wide-open fourth quarter,
Florida had amassed 326 yards on the ground, 403 in all. On the negative side,
the Gators were penalized 10 times for a loss of 80 yards, and they converted
just 2-of-11 third-down attempts.
The UF defense limited the Commodores to just 2.7 yards per carry and held
them scoreless on two of their five trips to the red zone, all while securing
three sacks and nine stops in all behind the line of scrimmage. Antonio
Morrison led the Gators with eight tackles, six of which were solo efforts.
Driskel has rushed for 326 yards and four TDs this season, ranking second on
the team behind Mike Gillislee and his 615 yards and seven scores. The young
UF signal-caller has connected on 66.7 percent of his throws for 836 yards,
but with only four passing TDs, opposing defense can focus more of their
energy on trying to stop the run -- something they've been unable to do with
any consistency thus far.
Florida's scoring yield (12.3 ppg) is right in line with South Carolina's, and
the Gators have been effective against both the run (107.5 ypg) and the pass
(189.7 ypg) this year. Florida leads the SEC in time of possession (33:53),
which means the defense gets ample time to rest and plan for the next series.
Current Florida head coach Will Muschamp knows Spurrier is revered in
Gainesville like no other.
"Obviously coach Spurrier winning a Heisman trophy here and his 12 years as
head coach here will probably never be repeated. You look at six SEC titles
and the 1990 season, had the best record in the SEC, and National
Championship, and really put Florida on the map as far as winning
championships in football. I've asked him before why it didn't happen before
and he never gives me a good reason but he just did a phenomenal job here as
the head coach, and a guy that's very well respected and a guy that I've got a
tremendous amount of respect for."
The Sports Network