South Carolina and Florida are gearing up for what will undoubtedly be one of the most physical and important match ups between SEC East teams.
Both teams still have national championship aspirations and both sit in the top ten of the initial BCS standings. Everything is on the line for these two teams.
Who: South Carolina at Florida
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Gainesville, FL
Stadium: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
Radio: 107.5 "The Game"
Internet Stream: University of South Carolina Athletic Site
The Gamecocks were outplayed by LSU in Baton Rouge, and walked out with a two point loss, 23 to 21.
After a week of being in the media spotlight the Gamecocks faltered on the road, where they have played poorly this year. Sadly, this game is on the road in an extremely hostile environment against almost a clone of LSU.
The Gamecocks may benefit from the loss, as they may be able to use the shot of reality with a side of humble pie. It always helps to see chinks in the armor. The running defense disappeared and the offense was disjointed in the loss.
The team can now focus on these problem areas.
Oh, and they also wore hideous pants.
Vanderbilt took an early 7-0 lead and gave the Gators a game until the very end. The Commodores came within striking distance twice with the Gators holding 21-14 and then 24-17 point lead.
Zac Stacey dropped a sure touchdowns that may have changed the momentum of the game.
However, the Gators did as they've done all season...wore out the opposition at the end of the day.
They finished with a 31-17 victory over Vanderbilt, in a game that was much closer than anticipated. However, the Gators showed a resilience that champions need.
Just playing. However, it seriously means the world to both teams. Steve Spurrier has a team that is potentially his greatest. There is depth and athleticism all across the board. People forget after the loss to LSU that this team has played well enough to be considered a national title contender still.
They have to win this game.
If they lose they are effectively out of the SEC East Race. Missouri and UGA would have to beat the Gators for the Gamecocks to get in, and then Georgia would have to lose one more time.
Nobody expected the Gators to be this good this quickly. If they win this game and win against the Bulldogs next week, this physical team gets the opportunity to play for the SEC and the National Championship.
This is a huge game in the college football landscape no matter which way you slice it.
I feel as though Connor Shaw is the key to this game.
Last week, even with the Gamecocks running game stalling and the defense being gashed by the run, Shaw kept the Gamecocks in the game with some solid passes.
He was awful with the run and struggled with adjustments at times, and his uncharacteristic mistakes effectively killed the Gamecocks chances.
If he handles the away crowd noise better the Gamecocks can run away with this game on his arm. He's still a vastly underrated passer.
Mike Gillislee is a machine.
He's played very, very, very well. He's fast, powerful, and has great vision. If he can continue to run as hard as he has been, the Gators will remain dangerous.
The Gators don't have the running back depth or power that LSU has. Gillislee will have to carry the load...and he has the potential to do so.
...They can limit the mistakes that they make.
If Connor Shaw doesn't put LSU in position to score with his woeful interception, the Gamecocks probably walk out of Baton Rouge with a "W" instead of an "L."
This will also take the offensive line stepping up and giving greater protection while opening holes for running backs (and not defensive players). Marcus Lattimore can't break all the tackles in the backfield.
...They can dominate the line of scrimmage like they did against LSU.
Their offensive line has been spectacular. The defensive line has been disruptive.
If Florida can run wild while keeping the Gamecock runners at bay, this could be a long day for the Gamecocks. The Gators do have a powerful team and they are at home.
All of the stars are aligned for them in 2012.
I feel as though a trend has been established in the SEC East. A team gets talked up a great deal, and then they get knocked back a peg.
It happened to Georgia before South Carolina manhandled them.
It happened to South Carolina before LSU exerted their physical dominance.
It's going to happen to Florida this week in a closely contested matchup. The Gamecocks are just a better offensive team when everything is clicking. Spurrier won't let the Gamecocks come out flat in two straight games.
The Gamecocks at their best are still better than any team this side of Alabama (and possibly Oregon).
Look for Ace Sanders to possibly provide a spark or two, either on offense or special teams that could be the difference in this game.
South Carolina- 20