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South Carolina vs. Chattanooga: Keys and a pick

Let’s get bowl eligible.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks enter their Senior Night contest against the Chattanooga Mocs a little bit worse for the wear, having suffered more than their share of injuries and still smarting after squandering a big lead to Florida. Nonetheless, this matchup against a lower-division foe should be an opportunity for the Gamecocks to bounce back and get some more pep in their step before the big game next weekend — and will hopefully punch South Carolina’s ticket to a bowl.

The keys

Flush Florida. God knows the result of that game has still been driving me crazy off and on throughout this week, but the Gamecocks need to put that mess behind them. Get off to a good start, get some positive energy going, and don’t leave any room for doubt in this one. Let’s have an encore performance of the Coastal Carolina game, please.

Get some backups in. Look, here’s what it boils down to: We all just want to see Dakereon Joyner with the ball in his hands before the season’s over, and it’d be nice if some other freshmen and first-year players got a little bit of seasoning as well. But seriously, #FreeDak.

Stay healthy. This is technically a key for every game that goes unsaid, but really, the Gamecocks can’t afford more injuries at this point in the season. I know some banged up players like Ty’Son Williams and Aaron Sterling are making a possible return to action tonight, but if they aren’t 100 percent, I’d be just fine with holding them out. This needs to be a get-in-get-out-with-the-win kind of game for South Carolina.

The pick

I’m not sure what to expect for the final score. The Mocs are FCS, and a pedestrian 6-4. They do play in the SoCon, which features some powerful teams, but they really shouldn’t be a threat to the Gamecocks. If the South Carolina offense keeps rolling like it did against Ole Miss and in the first half against Florida, that 31-point spread should be a reality — and could possibly be exceeded. I won’t get too crazy, though, and I’ll say 45-17 Gamecocks, with the Mocs picking up some points late against South Carolina’s reserves.