FIVE REASONS: South Carolina vs. UAB

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1. Dreadful. Let's be clear: UAB is a horrible team, and has been for a long time. They're so bad ... How bad are they?

They're so bad that there is legitimate discussion here in Alabama of discontinuing this football program.  Interestingly, there was a time when UAB appeared to be on the verge of being a really solid mid-major program.  I don't know enough to go into what happened to set them off the rails, but it's supposedly a story of remarkable mismanagement, political intrigue, backstabbing, and Watson Brown.

In short, losing to UAB would be worse than losing to Wofford. If South Carolina can't win this game, the season is over.

2. Defense. The Blazers' rushing defense is 91st. Scoring defense is 104th. Pass defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense are all 117th. Aside from rushing defense (60th), South Carolina is in the top 16 in all of those categories.

3. THE SAVIOR OF THE PROGRAM will play. Who knows if this is actually good or bad; after all, Stephen Garcia wasn't exactly a game-changer during his limited playing time against Georgia. But he also hasn't had time to show what he's capable of. But it can't get worse than the QB play so far. So the odds are it will be at least a marginal improvement.

4. Shaking up the offense. On the same theory, Spurrier has decided to reshuffle some of the rest of his lineup. Again, this might not be a good thing, but it can hardly get worse than an offense that struggled against N.C. State, sputtered at Vanderbilt, self-destructed against Georgia and scratched out just 23 points against Wofford.

5. Out of conference. The Team from the Upstate remains the only nonconference squad to have beaten South Carolina outside of bowl season in the Spurrier Era. The one bowl loss was to Missouri, back when it was just Missouri, but the point remains: midmajors don't beat Spurrier teams.

 

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1. Upsets happen. One need only look at what happened in Corvallis on Thursday to get a sense of what nothing is assured in college football. There were smart people -- and I'm not linking to them because there's no shame in saying it -- that were ruling out an Oregon State win. Not dismissing the possibility, not labeling it unlikely -- ruling it out. College football is funny like that.

2. Frantrell Forrest. The wide receiver is one of the few bright spots for the Blazers on offense this year -- or, well, anywhere on the team, really. The sophomore has 385 receiving yards and 335 kick return yards, good for 8th in the country in all-purpose yardage.

3. Joe Webb. Perhaps the other silver lining for the UAB faithful is their quarteback. He's not going to kill you with his arm -- his 121.04 passer efficiency rating is actually worse than Chris Smelley's 130.17 -- but he's rushed for 401 yards on the year and ranks 9th in the country in total offense.

4. Kenny McKinley. With their biggest playmaker still on the bench, the Gamecocks could be out of the game if they get down by a couple of scores.

5. Suspensions. Sure, there's a reason Spurrier chose this game and not Wofford to bench three starters. But that doesn't mean they won't be missed if things go bad. It's up to the other players who will take the field to make sure the absences aren't noticed.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 35, UAB 14. The Gamecocks should be able to shut down UAB enough to give the offense several drives with good field position. The awful Blazer defense should take care of the rest. If South Carolina were a competent offensive team, they could put up 40 or 50 on the Blazers and make some sort of statement that all is not lost. Alas, the offense has shown no such competence this year.

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