After a week one loss to Oklahoma State, Georgia returns home to face South Carolina in each teams first SEC game of the season. The winner will grab an early lead in the SEC East and could position themselves as a challenger to Florida should the Gators slip up.
Last Meeting: UGA 14 South Carolina 7, 2008
Line: UGA -7
Last year, these two knocked heads in week two with UGA coming out on top 14-7. The Gamecocks had a chance for a possible tying score late, but fumbled into the end zone.
South Carolina had just 18 yards rushing on 16 attempts, their lowest output of the season by far. But their 271 yards passing was the third best number in 2008 and the second most allowed by UGA all year.
Georgia managed just 252 total yards themselves in the defensive struggle, just one yard more than their season low of 251 against Auburn.
The fumble was the deciding point and the Gamecocks ended up minus two in the turnover margin for this game.
Three Keys For Georgia:
1. Get Joe Cox Comfortable
In his first start in almost three years, Cox look very unsettled in the pocket hitting just 15 for 30 on his passes against the Cowboys. The senior does not have the arm of Matt Stafford so he needs his veteran offensive line to give him time to find threats down the field like AJ Green who had just four catches last week.
2. Slow Down The Vertical Passing Game
Steve Spurrier has said he wants to go more vertical this week and he had success last year getting 270 through the air on the Bulldogs. UGA's secondary looks better this year as they held Oklahoma State to just 135 yards passing. Georgia cannot give up the deep ball in what figures to be a low scoring game.
3. Get Running Game Established Early
Having a guy like Richard Samuel or Caleb King churning out yards is the best way to get Cox comfortable in the pocket. UGA had just 95 yards on the ground in Stillwater. The Gamecocks look pretty tough against the run yielding just 59 to NC State. With a shaky QB, the ground game needs to be UGA's bread and butter.
Three Keys For South Carolina:
1. Get Pressure From The Edge
Eric Norwood is back for this seventh year (seems like it) and he has made a killing in this game coming off the edge. UGA will have a new tackle this week with starter Trinton Sturdivant out for the year. OSU was able to get to Cox last Saturday and it clearly rattled him. Also, DE Clifton Geathers (3 sacks LY) is back from a one game suspension for South Carolina.
2. Have Some Balance
South Carolina does not need to have 150 yards rushing to win this game, but they need to be successful enough to keep UGA's defense honest and not just pin their ears back for the pass. The Gamecocks won't win this game with another 18 yard, one-yard-per-carry performance.
3. Win Turnover Battle
This has really plagued the Gamecocks in this series. Stephen Garcia has to take better care of the ball than he has in the past. South Carolina is not as talented as Georgia and playing on the road, so they need every break they can get. UGA showed a propensity for coughing it up with three turnovers last week.
This figures to be another close one with six out of the last eight being decided by a TD or less. The winner has failed to go above 20 points in seven of the last eight and the two teams have combined for an average of just 27 points per game during this stretch.
Spurrier is very good as a road underdog beating the spread eight of the last 13 times with one tie. Mark Richt is just 19-24-1 ATS as a home favorite as UGA's head coach.
I think UGA has an advantage on the line of scrimmage with South Carolina if their talent plays to the level it can. I would not rest either game plan on the shoulders of Cox or Garcia, but on the skill players and defense making plays.
I think Georgia has enough talent playing in front of the home crowd with a little desperation in the air to pull a close one out.
Georgia 17 South Carolina 13
South Carolina Covers +7