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South Carolina vs. Florida: Why the Gamecocks Can Win Without Marcus Lattimore

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 29: Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks breaks free from Cartier Rice #35 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the second half of play at Commonwealth Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images
Josh HousmanCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2016

Let me begin by stating the obvious: if South Carolina has any hopes of playing in the BCS title game or winning a BCS bowl, they will need their star, first-round-projected running back Marcus Lattimore.

Lattimore has been a force so far this season for Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. He ran for almost 600 yards in seven games including three 100-yard games (against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia) while also scoring ten rushing touchdowns. 

Lattimore is South Carolina's best player on offense, and against Florida's stout SEC defense, they will need every bit of offensive firepower they can get. Luckily, quarterback Connor Shaw will be prepared to carry the load if Lattimore's hip injury keeps him out Saturday. 

Shaw has been very efficient this season, completing almost 70 percent of his passes while throwing for nine touchdowns. Shaw has shown the ability to not only hit the open receiver with poise in the pocket, he is also dangerous with his legs, running for over 70 yards in two of his last three games.

If Shaw is efficient and doesn't throw interceptions (he threw two of his four total last week), and backup Kenny Miles performs like he did last week against Kentucky when he broke off a 17-yard touchdown run, South Carolina's offense will be okay.

Another aspect of the game to look at is South Carolina's suffocating defense. Florida and South Carolina rank third and fourth in defense in the SEC and are giving up 12.3 points per game each. The Gamecocks, led by defensive end and Heisman Trophy candidate Jadeveon Clowney, are one of the best pass rushing teams in the league. They have the speed and athleticism to contain Jeff Driskel, who ran for 117 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt last weekend. 

Clowney, a former 5-star recruit, is a force of nature. He has recorded six-and-a-half sacks in seven games and is a surefire first-round pick if he enters the draft. He can dominate an offensive line by himself. 

Clowney, Shaw and Kenny Miles can change the game and take No. 7 South Carolina over No. 2 Florida this Saturday in the absence of Marcus Lattimore.

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