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South Carolina versus Western Carolina: Three Keys and a Prediction.

Can the Gamecocks handle their business and become bowl eligible Saturday?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You know it. I know it. The rest of the fanbase knows it.

Saturday could be a really neat day to be a Gamecock fan.

This weekend’s matchup versus the Western Carolina Catamounts represents the game that could make the Gamecocks bowl-eligible in their first season under Will Muschamp. It also represents an opportunity turn a seemingly doomed season into an above average campaign.

Why is it important? because, just four weeks ago the Gamecocks were reeling and the staff was stuck asking themselves a million questions, now they stand on the verge of what could be generally described as a successful return to the head coaching gig for a coach that’s been unfairly typecast as a hard-working but ineffetual head honcho.

How do they do that? I have a few ideas:

  1. STOP THE RUNNING GAME - What do UMass, MTSU, and Marshall have in common? They’re all ranked ahead of South Carolina in rushing defense this year. While it is no secret that the Gamecocks have been a little suspect against the run this year, it has been especially apparent against 4-6 yards-per-carry guys. They made UGA look like an M1-A1, they managed to allow record numbers against Kentucky’s running backs, and they have given up more than their fair share of big running plays this season. In order to take care of business this weekend, the Gamecocks are going to have to contain the Catamounts record-setting runner, Detrez Newsome.
  2. SCORE POINTS - It is also no secret that the Gamecocks have been a little lacking when it comes to scoring points this year. In fact, they have retaken the throne as the least productive offense in all of college football. If Carolina is going to notch its sixth win this weekend against a lesser opponent, they’re going to have to score more points than the other team, and we have by no means proven that we’re capable of that. Injury issues across the board are going to further hamper the team’s ability to rack up points, but look for the ground game to establish momentum and lead the way.
  3. THIRD DOWN - please. Please. Please. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE. Find a way to get off the field (on defense) when faced with a third-down scenario. It doesn’t matter if it’s third and short, third and a million, or third and in-between, this team has to absolutely figure out how to ramp up the intensity and make the plays necessary to prevent the other team from moving the chains when they absolutely have to.

Prediction - So, nothing I’ve ever predicted this season has gone well (except the things I’ve predicted correctly), so I’m presenting this to you with a grain of salt. This weekend, the Gamecocks get it done and pave the way for a potential trip back to prominence.

Gamecocks 38 - WCU 13