South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Florida Gators Complete Game Preview
It's the last conference game of the season for South Carolina and Florida, with the Gamecocks playing for a possible SEC East title and the Gators playing for pride.
South Carolina needs Auburn to beat Georgia earlier in the day, a victory over the Gators and one loss by Missouri over the next two weeks to claim the school's second SEC East title in 21 years in the league.
The injury-riddled Gators have lost four consecutive games and are merely trying to survive. Florida has lost 10 players for the season, including seven starters.
If the Gamecocks tee it up knowing that Auburn has taken care of business against the Bulldogs, look for their energy level, and that of the fans, to be at an all-time high.
What: South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. Florida (4-5, 3-4 SEC)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
Series History: Florida leads 24-6-3
Keys to Victory for South Carolina
Even though the Gators have lost four consecutive games, their defense remains ranked No. 1 in the SEC, including No. 1 against the pass and second-best against the run.
South Carolina has relied heavily on the running game with Mike Davis at tailback, and the Gamecocks need to get the ball in his hands at every opportunity, whether it's with straight handoffs or screen passes.
Pound away at the Gators, finish drives with points and make Florida's injury-riddled and inconsistent offense play from behind.
An improving South Carolina defense should be up to the task against a Florida offense that ranks last in the SEC.
Keys to Victory for Florida
For Florida to have any chance against the Gamecocks, the Gators are going to have to rely on their defense to hold the rope while they find a way to manufacture some points.
That could come on offense or special teams or setups from the defense.
The Gamecocks' special teams play has been spotty. It cost them the game against Tennessee, and if the Gators can follow the Vols' blueprint, an upset could be in the making.
It won't be easy.
Players to Watch for South Carolina
After a bye week, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is well-rested and ready to go, and that spells trouble for a Florida offensive line decimated by injuries and plagued by inconsistent play.
Quarterback Connor Shaw, who has been hampered by a sprained knee, should be closer to full strength and will likely play without a knee brace for the first time in several weeks.
Tailback Mike Davis is the cornerstone of the Gamecocks' rushing attack, while wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd have given South Carolina big plays in the passing game.
Players to Watch for Florida
Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy needs to play the game of his life to give the Gators a chance against the Gamecocks.
Murphy has completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns, but also has thrown five interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton gives the Gators a big-play threat in the passing game. Patton has 34 receptions for a team-leading 481 yards and four touchdowns.
Middle linebacker Michael Taylor has been in on 53 tackles for the Gators, including 3.5 for loss.
What They're Saying
At Florida, head coach Will Muschamp said Monday at his weekly press conference that the Gators have no choice but to "coach through" the adversity his team has faced this season.
At South Carolina, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier is doing his best to make sure his team doesn't get caught up in "scoreboard watching" with Auburn and Georgia set to play before the Florida game.
Everything about this one points to South Carolina in a landslide.
The Gators have been ravaged by injuries, are on a four-game losing streak and have little left to play for except pride.
South Carolina is well-rested after a bye week and comes into the game riding a school record-tying 15-game home winning streak, the longest current streak in the nation.
If Auburn beats Georgia earlier in the day, the atmosphere in Williams-Brice Stadium will be at a fever pitch.
That being said, the Gamecocks haven't been winning by blowouts, and Florida's defense is good enough to keep it close.
South Carolina 24, Florida 17.