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South Carolina Gamecocks at Florida Gators - By the Numbers

South Carolina enters Gainesville as deserved underdogs.

No way we were going all week without using this picture.
No way we were going all week without using this picture.
Sam Greenwood

At this point, it's no surprise that South Carolina enters its final SEC game of the season as an underdog.  While the Gators try to keep their SEC East hopes alive, the Gamecocks simply hope to attain bowl eligibility, which will require at least one road win - either in Gainesville, or in their season finale against Clemson.

Overall Record AP Rank F/+ Rank S&P+ Rank FEI Rank
South Carolina 4-5 (2-5) NR 52 50 41
Florida 5-3 (3-3) NR 41 41 37

Unsurprisingly, the Gators come in ranked ahead of South Carolina in every metric, strengthened by two solid performances in the last two weeks against Georgia and Vanderbilt.  The improvement coincided with the replacement of Jeff Driskell with Treon Harris at quarterback, which should cause the Gamecocks concern that, while the Gators are improving, their defense continues to fall off a cliff.

When South Carolina has the ball
USC Offense Florida Defense
S&P+ 113.4 (16th) 109.5 (37th)
FEI .807 (3rd) -.363 (26th)
Success Rate 47.1% (22nd) 40.0% (59th)
IsoPPP 0.89 (39th) 0.72 (11th)
Rushing S&P 126.8 (19th) 115.7 (27th)
Passing S&P 124.7 (24th) 112.4 (39th)
Std. Downs S&P 122.4 (20th) 118.1 (21st)
Pass. Downs S&P 129.0 (24th) 100.5 (66th)
Std. Downs Run% 59.8% (57th)
Pass. Downs Run% 20.2% (123rd)

South Carolina has an outstanding offense this year, and Florida's defense isn't quite as good as it normally has been under embattled head coach Will Muschamp.  That means South Carolina can score against the Gators, which they'll need to do if they want a chance to win, given the match-ups in the other two aspects of the game.

Much like the Auburn game, there's a slight South Carolina edge here that the Gamecocks must exploit completely in order to have a chance in the game.  Dylan Thompson and the Carolina offense have answered the bell the last two games, but they'll need to do so once more to give their team a shot in the Swamp.

One case for optimism here is that Florida struggles more in success rate as compared to IsoPPP, which means that Carolina can potentially churn out clock-killing drives instead of hitting huge plays to score.  In addition, if the Gamecocks find themselves with a late lead, the Gator defense seems susceptible to allowing USC to bleed out the clock, something it's struggled to do in earlier games this season.

When Florida has the ball
Florida Offense USC Defense
S&P+ 102.6 (52nd) 93.3 (92nd)
FEI -.155 (80th) .713 (126th)
Success Rate 38.4% (101st) 49.2% (122nd)
IsoPPP 0.83 (72nd) 0.87 (80th)
Rushing S&P 117.4 (32nd) 83.6 (114th)
Passing S&P 104.6 (56th) 100.4 (63rd)
Std. Downs S&P 104.8 (57th) 91.0 (101st)
Pass. Downs S&P 128.5 (25th) 92.7 (84th)
Std. Downs Run% 67.5% (22nd)
Pass. Downs Run% 39.3% (25th)

It feels like those standard and passing down run percentages are low, but remember - 1) there are military academies in the NCAA, along with Georgia Tech; and 2) despite only throwing the ball six times against Georgia, the Gators ran a relatively balanced offense in their most recent victory over Vanderbilt.  The most depressing part about this thought process is acknowledging the reality that our defense isn't nearly as good as the Commodores.

South Carolina's more likely to find some success against teams that throw the ball instead of run, but they'll find no comfort from the Gators, who love to line up and run right at teams.  Their offense certainly isn't as explosive as Auburn, but as the Volunteers taught us two weeks ago, it doesn't take an outstanding offense to rack up a ton of points against this defense.

Special teams
South Carolina Florida
ST Points +6.2 +7.5
Field Position Adv. .478 (102nd) .535 (22nd)
Avg. Field Pos. Own 27.2 (112th) Own 33.6 (10th)
Avg. Opp. Field Pos. Own 29.8 (72nd) Own 28.8 (48th)
Delta -2.6 (97th) +4.8 (14th)

And the kicker - the offense (and defense) will likely start each drive a few yards closer or farther from the end zone than an average team, as the Gators hold a considerable special teams advantage over South Carolina.  For a team that needs every edge they can get, their coverage and return teams haven't really provided them this season.

It's been a very frustrating last few weeks in Columbia, and while there are certainly avenues to victory available to Carolina, it's hard to feel too confident that they can walk out of the Swamp alive on Saturday afternoon.