#19 South Carolina faces a stern test when #1 Alabama takes the field tomorrow in Columbia. However, knocking off the nation's #1 team is something the Gamecocks' major sports teams haven't had a problem with this year. The men's basketball team took down #1 Kentucky, and the baseball team earned its first national championship title by beating a #1 on the way, as well. A trifecta is in play.
An interesting statistic has been floating around regarding #1 college football teams who've beaten a fellow top 10 team the week prior to going on the road against a top 25 opponent - #1 has lost five of the six times it's occurred. That certainly works in Carolina's favor. Additionally, Williams-Brice has become a very difficult place for the opposition. The Gamecocks have won 14 of their last 17 home games dating back to the 2008 season. Regardless of the outcome, Alabama won't get out of Columbia without a fight. Despite the numbers game looking pretty to South Carolina fans, the Gamecocks need to play exceptionally well on Saturday, and hope the Crimson Tide has a few errors waiting to be doled out.
Priority numero uno for Carolina is simple - PROTECT THE FOOTBALL. We simply cannot survive fumbles and or picks in this game and win. I think the turnover margin needs to be +2 South Carolina for us to pull off the upset. If Stephen Garcia can hold onto the ball when he's running it, and make smart decisions when looking to pass, we should be in this thing to the end.
Second, the Gamecock defense has to be able to slow down Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. We're not going to shut down the Bama run game, but we have the ability to hamper it enough to force Greg McElroy to throw, and that's not the strength of the Alabama football team.
The third factor in a Carolina upset coincides with the prior. If our offense is able to score points, it will aid in slowing the run game of Alabama and forcing McElroy to take to the air. We need to have success passing the football, and I believe we will. What we cannot do is recreate the Auburn game and shoot success in the kneecaps by coughing the ball back up to the best team in America. The offensive line also must get enough of a push for us to have enough of a semblance of a running game to allow the passing offense to flourish.
Fourthly, South Carolina needs to get ahead early. This is another factor that relates to slowing down the Ingram and Richardson show, and that's a program that needs to have low ratings tomorrow afternoon.
Lastly, Stephon Gilmore needs to make an impact in the WildCock and we need to see Steve Spurrier's genius in action with trickeration and playcalling. We're up against a team that is stronger, bigger, and faster than us. To win, we need to give them our best, and fool them a little. It's what SOS is known for. Let's see it.
The task is tough, but not impossible. The reality is that their best versus our best won't lead to a victory. We have to hope that they struggle getting up for a third straight "big game," and that we are able to capitalize on some of, if not all of, the things mentioned above. I'll be there believing we can win. It's up to the team to go all out. It's up to us, the fans, to do our part and be loud. GO COCKS! BEAT ALABAMA!