2011, season two.
That's what this game feels like.
The quarterback is different, the running backs are different, but the expectations remain: Win the SEC East.
The Gamecocks are still in the drivers seat and have the potential to still earn a trip back to Atlanta.
In their way? A struggling Tennessee Volunteers team that needs this victory in the worst way. Will the Gamecocks be able to bounce back from the injuries on the team? Let's see.
Here are the five keys to a Gamecock victory.
|Position||South Carolina Advantage||Even||Tennessee Advantage|
|Wide Receivers||X |
|Defensive Line||X |
|Defensive Backs||X ||
Tennessee just isn't a very good ball club. Even without Lattimore, the Gamecocks should handle the Volunteers if they handle the Marcus Lattimore loss with any sort of success.
Some fans are clamoring for the old Fun 'n Gun style offense of the old Spurrier days.
This would be a terrible mistake.
For one, the Gamecocks just don't have the personnel, and two, Brandon Wilds is a solid back who can do some special things.
A rare combination of speed, strength and vision, Brandon has the makings of a good SEC back. He is just a freshman, but his maturity is well beyond that.
Lost in the shuffle of post-Lattimorocolypse was another major injury.
Kyle Nunn, an All-SEC lineman, is out for the year.
Since his injury, the line has looked woeful, and a bit more like the linemen of 2007-2009. For those of you that don't know, that means "not good."
The young offensive linemen remaining must gel quickly. This really does feel like a new season, and it takes time for lines to develop. Problem... there is no time.
Also lost in the SEC shuffle is the dissapointing play of Taurne Poole, who looked to be great coming out of 2010.
He has played as timidly as I have seen a back play for any team. South Carolina is struggling against the run. If there was ever a time for Tauren to break out, it's now.
South Carolina cannot allow that to happen. This would take pressure of the young Justin Worley and allow him to play well.
Justin Worley may have picked a terrible time to start.
Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor and the rest of the defensive monsters will be able to make him feel a bit sore on Sunday.
There is very little chance that Tennessee will be able to stop the Gamecock front seven, and they will be the key reason why the Gamecocks should win.
As Carolina fans, we all know that Bruce is good at a wide variety of things. Running. Passing. Catching. Basketball. Knitting.
The nation doesn't know this yet.
They will after Saturday. Bruce is a star in the making, and with Lattimore out, he will have more opportunities to show why he was such a highly sought after football player coming out of high school.
South Carolina beat Mississippi State in a game that will go down as a huge 2011 turning point... because of Marcus Lattimore going down, not the W.
How the team responds to his absence will go a long way in telling what type of program South Carolina has developed.
Leftover Hot Dog and myself did predict South Carolina to win. However, LHD once again moved his way closer to me after a poor start to his pick 'em challenge.
I predicted a score of 28-14 in favor of the Gamecocks, so I added 16 to my total.
LHD predicted the score to be 20-10, which means he saw 10 points added to his score.
Our guest, Jeremy Hillman, predicted SC to win 31-19, so he took a 24-point hit.
So as it stands:
1. Alex Roberts (6-1) +179
2. Leftover Hot Dog (6-1) +188
3. Guest Experts (5-2) +243
My Score Prediction: South Carolina 24, Tennessee 10
Leftover Hot Dog's Prediction: South Carolina 23, Tennessee 10
Guest Expert's Prediction: South Carolina 17, Tennessee 13
As always, it is great to be a Gamecock, and you can always fan me on Facebook!