1. Tim Tebow. Banged up or not, Tebow is one of those players who qualifies as a force of nature. He's accounted for 2,826 yards of total offense this year, including 2,228 yards passing and 598 yards rushing, and 35 touchdowns. And he's the kind of mobile quarterback that gives the South Carolina defense fits. Florida has proven this year that one critical element of the Gators' success is a big day for their signal-caller.
2. Percy Harvin. If Tim Tebow is one of Florida's Heisman candidates of the future, Percy Harvin is another. Yes, I've been obsessed with Harvin for a long time; I think he's that good a football player. He has 442 rushing yards and 714 receiving yards this year, scoring seven times overall. In short, he's the kind of player that makes Urban Meyer's defese tick.
3. Motivation. With all other factors controlled for, this might be a bigger game for Florida than it is for South Carolina. For every Gator fan you find that still regards Steve Spurrier kindly, I've found, there's another one bitter at the way he left Gainesville. That's not all. Florida has, let's face it, a much better chance of making Atlanta than South Carolina does. That's a lot of motivation.
4. Rushing defense. Florida is giving up an average of just over 105 yards a game on the ground, which will make it harder for Spurrier to get Cory Boyd and Mike Davis involved. It should be noted, though, that the Gators aren't invincible, with LSU picking up 247 yards rushing and Georgia running for 196. It should also be noted that South Carolina doesn't have Knowshon Moreno or the LSU offensive line.
5. Turnovers. Florida is has a turnover margin of +1 this year, and that's with seven fumbles lost. We all know that the South Carolina defense regards a fumble as an oddity to be observed and studied as opposed to an opportunity to be seized.
1. Urgency. It would be hard to call this the most important game of the Spurrier Era to this point. But it has to be one of the top two or three. South Carolina needs a win to prove it's still a legitimate bowl team and to revive the players' confidence in themselves and each other. These are the kinds of games we hired Steve Spurrier to win.
2. Blake Mitchell. Since being inserted into the Tennessee game, Mitchell is 58-of-96 (60.4 percent) for 654 yards with 3 TDs and an INT. Florida is giving up 241.7 ypg through the air. Think Spurrier might get Mitchell to throw the ball just a few times?
3. Passing defense. I guess. It's hard to tell at this point how good the secondary really is, since no one really needs to throw against it, and it is banged up a bit. But it's still one of the top-rated units in the country statistically, and shutting down the air attack will at least take away some of the Gators' weapons.
4. Steve Spurrier. He does always save a good game plan for Florida, beating them once and coming within the massive wingspan of Jarvis Moss from defeating the Gators in the Swamp last year. Yes, he likes to beat his old team.
5. A chip on the shoulder. The run defense might not be any better schematically and in terms of being in the right place at the right time, but you can bet their going to hit hard. Hard enough to throw Tebow off his game? One can hope.
PREDICTION: Florida 38, South Carolina 34. I'm done trying to be smarter than I was during the preseason. Florida's got the edge on this one going in.