The University of Florida’s sudden appearance in the latest BCS standings may have ruffled some feathers in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gators snuck their way into the poll at No. 22 and sit one spot above the Gamecocks. Both teams will battle it out for supremacy in the SEC East this weekend.
The Gators' unexpected ranking amplifies the imperfections of the BCS system. There is no good reason why Florida ended up ahead of South Carolina. The Gators may have won games by bigger margins but not against better teams.
The Gamecocks and Gators are both sitting at 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. Each beat Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. South Carolina lost 31-28 to Kentucky while Florida prevailed 48-14.
However, South Carolina has had a tougher grind and a bit more success. They beat the previously top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 35-21. Florida lost to Alabama by 25 points.
The Gamecocks had two other high profile matchups with ranked teams and lost both. They fell by eight points to Auburn, who is currently ranked No. 2 but was No. 17 when they played. Last weekend, South Carolina lost to No. 18 Arkansas at home by a score of 41-20.
Although the Gamecocks were blown out by the Razorbacks, Florida did nothing exceptional to move ahead of them. Their 55-14 win over Vanderbilt (2-7) last Saturday is hardly noteworthy.
Florida has not beaten a ranked team this season. Along with the Alabama defeat, they lost to No. 12 LSU.
By virtue of the Alabama results alone, the Gamecocks should have the edge over the Gators.
South Carolina can seek consolation in the all-human polls, which give them the edge. AP and USA Today both show South Carolina at No. 22 and Florida at No. 24.
The rankings battle will be resolved this weekend when the Gamecocks travel to the Swamp for what amounts to the SEC East title game.
Florida has the home field advantage and the desire to polish up their reputation after a lackluster season.
The Gamecocks also have plenty of motivation to win. They are on the verge of their first trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game and seek redemption following the Arkansas thumping.
The stats reveal two teams with entirely different strengths and weaknesses.
Gamecocks Better On Offense
South Carolina has Florida beat in total offense and passing yards. Quarterback Steven Garcia is No. 16 in passing efficiency. Running back Marcus Lattimore is No. 20 in rushing and No. 10 in individual scoring. None of Florida’s offensive play makers are ranked in the Top 50.
The Gamecocks are also better than Florida at third and fourth-down conversions.
Gators Better On Defense
The Gators defense is tied for No. 1 in the nation in interceptions and No. 7 in total defense. They also rank higher than the Gamecocks in defensive scoring and get more mileage on punt and kick-off returns.
For the Gamecocks to prevail on Saturday, Lattimore needs to eat up serious yardage, and Garcia has to be accurate.
Chime in Gamecock fans: How do you think the team will fare against the Gators?
(Source for all stats: USA Today)