An intriguing Top 25 matchup will unfold in Columbia this Saturday, as No. 24 South Carolina (1-1) hosts No. 6 Georgia (1-0) at 3:30 p.m. ET.
We know what to expect from the Bulldogs; we expect another huge helping of Heisman candidate Todd Gurley, who had 293 all-purpose yards in a 45-21 win over Clemson in the season-opener.
The Gamecocks, however, offer a little more uncertainty. They opened the season with a 52-28 loss to Texas A&M before beating East Carolina by just 10 points. South Carolina led just 20-16 at halftime and eventually won, 33-23.
What can we expect from the Gamecocks in a huge SEC-East showdown this Saturday?
“It’s hard looking at a Week 1 game and trying to base a season off that, but certainly that shocked a lot of people,” SEC on CBS sideline reporter Allie LaForce said on The Morning Show, referring to South Carolina’s loss to A&M. “They’re so resilient at home – they had that 18-game home winning streak – and then (they lost by 24 points) to open up the season. Nobody expected (Aggies quarterback Kenny) Hill to do what he did. A lot of teams are going to make huge adjustments against Texas A&M after seeing what he was able to do.”
But South Carolina could be in for a tough season. It’s still early, but the Gamecocks rank 70th in scoring offense and 113th in scoring defense. Yikes.
“I like the adjustments they made against East Carolina but would’ve liked to see a more dominant win against them,” LaForce said. “What they did do well, though, is they tried to control the time of possession.”
Indeed, South Carolina rushed 38 times for 175 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns against East Carolina. Mike Davis led the way with 18 carries for 101 yards, while senior quarterback Dylan Thompson finished 25-of-38 for 266 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Thompson is charged with the unenviable task of stepping in for Connor Shaw, whom Gary Danielson labeled the hardest SEC quarterback to replace this season.
“I’m starting to agree with him,” LaForce said. “Thompson just needs some time. I think South Carolina will recover, but it’s certainly learning.”
Georgia also had to replace a starting quarterback this year. The Bulldogs said good-bye to Aaron Murray and hello to Hutson Mason, who went 18-of-26 for 131 yards against Clemson.
Georgia set a school record for yards per game last year, but injuries derailed its season. The Bulldogs are hoping Mason can guide them to the College Football Playoff, especially with a dominant rushing attack. They ran 41 times for 328 yards (8.0 yards per carry) and five touchdowns against Clemson.
“They trust (Mason),” LaForce said. “They like when the ball’s in his hands. It’s easy to hand it off to Gurley, but the team has a lot of trust in what Mason’s able to do. I think they like what he’s doing, they like what he brings and they’re confident in him. It’s just (a question of) can they keep everybody healthy?”