Well everyone, we have officially sailed into pre-Papa Johns.com Bowl waters. Dreams of SEC glory have faded into nightmarish back-to-back SEC East losses, causing everyone to wonder if the Spurrier banner is indeed a curse.
While South Carolina probably isn't going to live up to it's preseason #9 ranking this year, fans and players alike should be feeling a little better come Saturday afternoon. October 18th marks the first time all season, that on paper, South Carolina should destroy an opponent. While beating a subpar FCS team isn't normally anything to get excited about, should USC cover the nearly 40-point spread, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Gamecock fan not celebrating.
A big lead early would likely mean a couple things. The Dylan Thompson era would come to an end...for a half. Perry Orth and/or Connor Mitch should see significant action for the first time this season, giving Carolina a glimpse into the quarterbacking future. Also, David Williams should be able to add heavily to his rushing totals, as the Paladins have been getting torched on the ground recently.
How to witness
12 p.m. ET, Williams-Brice Stadium (Columbia, S.C.)
Channel: SEC Network
Play-by-play: Tom Hart
Analysis: Matt Stinchcomb
Sideline: Kayce Smith
Channel: Gamecock IMG Sports Network
Play-by-play: Todd Ellis
Analysis: Tommy Suggs
Sideline: Langston Moore
Rankings and records: South Carolina is 3-3 (2-3) and is unranked in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. However, USC is receiving one vote in the AP Poll. Furman is 2-4 (1-1) and is unranked.
Vegas: South Carolina is a 39-point favorite.
Weather forecast: 81 and Sunny
What's at stake
At the beginning of the season this game was mostly viewed as a small speed bump on the road to competing for the SEC. Fast forward two months, and Furman meets a reeling Carolina team that badly needs a win to keep the entire season from falling apart. An upset Saturday would put South Carolina's bowl appearance streak in jeopardy.
Two big matchups
South Carolina's running game vs. Furman defense: If there was ever a matchup to get a lot of production from Davis and Company, this is it. Furman is giving up an average of 168 yards on the ground per contest, including three straight of at least 200 yards. While Furman's defensive line isn't exactly tiny, Carolina should not have an issue opening up massive holes for the running game.
Furman's running game against South Carolina's rush defense: Freshman QB P.J. Blazejowski will be making just his second career start this Saturday, which also means this will be his first road start. Judging by how Furman used him in their last game, he will take off running early and often. Hank McCloud, Furman's senior running back, will also surely get plenty of chances to break through a Carolina rush defense that just got shredded by the wildcat.