One of the best defensive rivalries in the South heats up on Saturday night as the South Carolina Gamecocks head into Athens to take on the 21st ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Both teams seem deflated from recent expectations; Georgia falling from the No. 1 preseason ranking last year and South Carolina failing to live up to the Steve Spurrier hype.
There are a lot of unknowns heading into the game this weekend, but there have been several trends over the past five years that will be interesting to watch. These trends could be early indicators of which team will get an early SEC win.
Offense has been lacking in the series with teams scoring an average of 13.5 points per game over the last five years. Each game during that time period the winning team out rushed the opposition and Georgia's 140 yards rushing in 2007 was the only time the losing team crossed the century mark.
Turnovers have also played a big role in deciding the winner between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs. Since 2004, neither team has lost the turnover battle and survived to win. Twice the teams have been tied in the turnover margin, but the other three games gave victory to the team with fewer mistakes.
The last four years have shown the team scoring first as the winner. All but one of these games have been decided by seven points or less. In addition, only once during this time period has the home team won.
Looking at all these statistical trends, what do they mean for Saturday's game? In reality, most of them mean nothing.
Like every other game played between two SEC teams, only a few of these things really determine the game; running the ball effectively, scoring early, and winning the turnover battle.
Both Georgia and South Carolina have similar question marks on offense that could leave them vulnerable to turnovers. The Gamecocks quarterback still has not proven he can play mistake-free football as turnovers plagued him last year and he threw a pick against N.C. State last week.
On the other side, Georgia shot themselves in the foot last week with two fumbles and an interception. I believe whichever team wins the turnover battle will most definitely win on Saturday.
The running game is the other key that will define the winning team. South Carolina will have to get a lot from Brian Maddox who still has yet to prove he can be an every down rusher. The Bulldogs will look to sophomore Richard Samuel to have a big game behind an experienced offensive line.
Garcia: 11-19, 130 yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Interception
Maddox: 23 rushes, 75 yards
Cox: 15-25, 145 yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Interception
Samuel: 25 rushes, 110 yards, 1 Touchdowns
Final Score: South Carolina 10 Georgia 17
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