Every week is the big week in the SEC. You can't take that trip to the orchard that your girlfriend is bugging you about without missing another top-10 matchup.
That's exactly what we have when the South Carolina Gamecocks travel to the Swamp to take on Will Muschamp's surprising Florida Gators. Sorry, ladies.
The Gators were No. 2 in the inaugural BCS rankings. Getting a win against USC would be a huge step in keeping them on track for a berth in the national championship game.
In order to send Steve Spurrier home with his visor freshly crumpled, the following players must take the lead.
Matt Patchan and Chaz Green, Offensive Tackles
The strength of South Carolina's defense isn't difficult to find. The shorter of the Gamecocks' two defensive ends is 6'6" and weighs 256 pounds.
Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor make things difficult for opposing offenses. Clowney, the former No. 1-overall recruit, has not disappointed in his two years in Columbia. His physicality and tenacity draw attention along the trenches that only makes things easier on the 6'8" Taylor.
Charged with stopping, or at least slowing, these two monsters will be Patchan and Green, neither of whom should be lightly regarded. However, they should be given plenty of help from tight ends or the interior of the line.
LSU was able to neutralize Clowney by being active and attacking him. The Tigers were able to force him toward help as plays developed. The Gators will surely copy this method and bring the fight to the defensive ends.
Jeff Driskel, Quarterback
The quarterback is a must-have on any such list, but his definition of excellence is slightly different than the others. Driskel need only to take care of the ball and convert a third down or two. That's it. Let the defense and running game do the work.
Mark Gillislee, Running Back
The bell cow of the Swamp must keep those legs churning against the stingy Gamecocks defense. His ability to run between the tackles should give those defense ends a second of hesitation, so Driskel can complete the occasional third-down pass.
If he can get to his 100-yard average, the Gators will be in control of this game.
Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic, Linebackers
The Gamecocks are not Spurrier's Gators of the '90s. They are not going to spread everyone out and sling it all over the place. Perhaps it's old age, but Spurrier prefers a much more balanced approach to his offense now.
The Gators welcome back Jenkins from a knee injury. He'll be paired with Bostic in an attempt to shut down the South Carolina rushing attack. While the Ol' Ball Coach likes his balance, the key to his offense these days is the run. These two fellows hold the key. They must stuff the holes and wrap up.
Assuming they do, the Gators will grind out a tough victory.
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