South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Georgia Bulldogs Complete Game Preview

Charles BennettContributor ISeptember 3, 2013

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Georgia Bulldogs Complete Game Preview

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    South Carolina has beaten Georgia in three consecutive football seasons, but only has one SEC East title to show for it, with the Bulldogs winning the last two.

    The Gamecocks are hoping a victory over the Bulldogs this year will be a springboard to the SEC Championship Game.

    Georgia, meanwhile, is trying to avoid starting the season at 0-2.

    The Bulldogs will be without the services of wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Georgia's 38-35 loss at Clemson last week.

    South Carolina emerged from last Thursday's 27-10 victory over North Carolina relatively injury-free. The one injury of note was starting center Cody Waldrop's sprained ankle.

    If Waldrop is unable to go, the Gamecocks will play redshirt freshman Clayton Stadnik. 

     

    Who: South Carolina (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at Georgia (0-1, 0-0 SEC)

    When: 4:30 p.m., ET

    Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.

    Watch: ESPN

    Series history: Georgia leads, 43-17-2 

    Unless otherwise noted all quotes obtained firsthand. 

Keys to Victory for South Carolina

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    South Carolina's defensive focus will be on stopping the Georgia running game, tailback Todd Gurley in particular.

    Gurley rushed for 155 yards on 12 carries in the Bulldogs' loss to Clemson last week.

    The Gamecocks' best hope is to limit Georgia's running game and force the Bulldogs to pass. South Carolina can then turn loose its vaunted pass rush, featuring Jadeveon Clowney.

    Offensively, the Gamecocks look to feature a balanced attack and will need a big game from quarterback Connor Shaw.

     

Keys to Victory for Georgia

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    The key for Georgia against South Carolina will start with a better effort defensively than the Bulldogs displayed in last week's 38-35 loss to Clemson.

    The Tigers piled up 467 yards in total offense against a Georgia defense that only returns two starters from last year.

    Offensively, it all starts up front with the Bulldogs' offensive line against South Carolina's highly regarded defensive line.

    If the Bulldogs can get tailback Todd Gurley some running room, it could be a long day for the Gamecocks.

     

     

     

Players to Watch for South Carolina

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    South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney turned in a below-par effort in the Gamecocks' 27-10 victory over North Carolina.

    Clowney was in on only three tackles and was held without a sack against the Tar Heels. He also looked tired late in the game, bringing into question his conditioning.

    South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier cited the hot, muggy condition in Columbia, S.C., for Clowney's fatigue and said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference that he expects an improved effort from Clowney against the Bulldogs.

    Offensively, quarterback Connor Shaw will have to be on top of his game and make good decisions for the Gamecocks, particularly when it comes to running the football or hanging in the pocket for a second longer.

     

Players to Watch for Georgia

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    Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is the key to the Georgia offense.

    Although his overall numbers were respectable in last week's loss to Clemson, he failed to throw a touchdown pass and had one pass intercepted.

    He'll have to make good decisions against a solid South Carolina defense that figures to bring plenty of heat with its pass rush.

    It will help Murray greatly if the Bulldogs can get tailback Todd Gurley rolling. If that's the case, Murray can spend most of Saturday handing off, and he won't have to worry about having South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney in his face for the entire game.

What They're Saying

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    As might be expected, there's a little bit more spring in the step of the South Carolina Gamecocks coming off their victory over North Carolina, as Steve Spurrier noted at his weekly press conference on Tuesday:

    We had Willie Nelson's "Georgia on my Mind" blaring yesterday. Our players thought it was Ray Charles. We always play that every week we play Georgia. We always play that music out there during stretch. That's all we're trying to do, trying to get Georgia on our mind and come up with some plays, we think, will give us a chance to beat them.

    Meanwhile, in Athens, Ga., the mood was a little more somber for a Georgia team coming off a narrow loss to Clemson. Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked at his Tuesday press conference about what he thought of Spurrier, the man Georgia fans love to hate:

    He's a good coach like most everybody in our league. I think everybody in our league is a good coach, otherwise they wouldn't be here. He is mostly running their offense, but you study film and tendencies just like you would anybody else. He doesn't coach defense or special teams, but he's got a team that is playing hard. He's got a big, physical football team and they have an identity. Their identity is to play defense, run the ball real physical, take some shots down the field and you saw it on special teams. That has been a good formula for victory.

    Both quotes obtained firsthand.

     

Prediction

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    Emotions will be running high on both sides Saturday between the hedges.

    Georgia will go all out to avoid starting the season at 0-2 while South Carolina will be all out to beat the Bulldogs for a fourth consecutive season.

    With 28 players from the state of Georgia on the Gamecocks' roster, you had better believe that they'll come ready to play.

    It boils down to defense and South Carolina's is better. Georgia is playing with nine new starters on defense and it showed in last week's 38-35 loss to Clemson.

     

    South Carolina 28, Georgia 21