The marquee matchup in Week 7 of the 2012 college football season is the SEC showdown between South Carolina and LSU.
The Gamecocks are coming off their most resounding victory of the year—a 35-7 blowout over Georgia. The win pushed them up to the No. 3 ranking in this week’s AP Top 25 poll.
The Tigers suffered a much less positive result, losing 14-6 to Florida. After their first loss of the season, they dropped to No. 9 in the national poll.
Here is everything you need to know about this week’s most intriguing matchup.
Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
When: Saturday, October 13, 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: LSU -2.5 (according to Sports Book)
South Carolina Injury Report (via USA Today, as of Oct. 8)
Brandon Wilds—sophomore running back is out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Shon Carson—freshman running back is out indefinitely with a wrist injury.
LSU Injury Report (via USA Today, as of Oct. 8)
Alfred Blue—junior running back is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Jordan Allen—sophomore defensive end is out for the season with a knee injury.
Travin Dural—freshman wide receiver is out for the season with a knee injury.
Tyler Edwards—senior tight end is out for the season due to academic ineligibility.
D.J. Welter—sophomore linebacker is out for the season due to academic ineligibility.
Evan Washington—sophomore offensive lineman is out for the season due to academic ineligibility.
Tahj Jones—junior linebacker is out for the season due to academic ineligibility.
Chris Faulk—junior tackle is out for the season with a knee injury.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
The first BCS standings will be released following this week’s games, and this game will have a significant effect on how this list looks on Sunday, October 14.
South Carolina may have a shot at Oregon’s No. 2 spot with a convincing victory, while LSU can start its climb back into national championship contention with a big win at home.
What They’re Saying
South Carolina’s performance against Georgia impressed ESPN’s Edward Aschoff enough to bump the Gamecocks up two spots in his weekly SEC power rankings. He wrote:
The Gamecocks completely dominated Georgia over the weekend. South Carolina's offense is extremely balanced and looks like it can just jump on Marcus Lattimore's shoulders at this point. He's just getting stronger and stronger. The defense is smothering up front and stopping that defensive line has been a nightmare for teams.
The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais writes that LSU’s offense has been a significant problem for the team this season.
The Tigers can’t pass-block. The loss of Chris Faulk at left tackle has been an anchor on them, even with Alex Hurst in his old spot.
The Tigers can’t catch. Fab five receivers? Fumbled fingered five more like it. Even when LSU got a prayer of a pass from Zach Mettenberger to Odell Beckham Jr. for 56 yards after Florida went up 7-6 in the third, Beckham fumbled trying to extend the play. Soon after, Gillislee scored Florida’s second TD.
South Carolina Player to Watch: Marcus Lattimore, Running Back
Lattimore has been the focal point of the Gamecocks offense this season and has been consistently fantastic. He has 549 yards rushing yards, a 4.7 yards per carry average and nine touchdowns.
He has received more than 20 carries in every game except the contests against East Carolina and UAB, which were over soon after they started. In the other four games—all against SEC opponents—Lattimore gained more than 100 yards in three of them and also scored two touchdowns in three of them.
LSU Player to Watch: Barkevious Mingo, Defensive End
The 6’5”, 240-pound junior is arguably the most talented pass-rusher in the country, and he is capable of wreaking havoc on South Carolina running back Connor Shaw.
If Mingo is able to constantly get into the backfield, the LSU defense has the potential to compensate for its lackluster offense enough to earn a victory for the Tigers.
Key Matchup: Zach Mettenberger vs. South Carolina Defense
The LSU defense is still an elite unit, but the offense needs to make at least minor contributions for the team to have a chance in this game.
Mettenberger was supposed to add a vertical element to the Tigers offense, but the passing game has been stagnant thus far. If the LSU quarterback can connect on a few throws down the field in this game, his team will have an excellent chance to win the game.
Key Storyline: The Second-Best Team in the SEC
Alabama is clearly the best team in the conference and the country, but South Carolina has supplanted LSU as the SEC’s second-best team after this past week’s results.
If the Gamecocks deal LSU its second consecutive loss, it will reaffirm that position. But if the Tigers can win this Saturday, they will reclaim their status as the Crimson Tide’s top challenger.
Prediction: LSU 13, South Carolina 10
This will be a hard-fought defensive battle, and LSU’s talent on that side of the ball will help them win a close game.