The biggest game of South Carolina’s season so far -- and possibly the season on a whole -- is just one sleep away as the Gamecocks take on the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs in Williams-Brice tomorrow afternoon. Are conditions ripe for the upset? The GABA staff weighs in with their predictions.
Cole: For me every year the Georgia game is the biggest game of the season due to them being top “dog”, if you will in the east. If you have been on any social media site within the past week you know that this game has a chance to be the usual tight game between the two. Georgia, is favored anywhere from 9 to 10 points. That number is a little too high to me, yes the Bulldogs have more depth and more talent across the board than the Garnet and Black. The difference for me is a VERY hungry fan base and an atmosphere that puts anyone that comes into Williams-Brice Stadium on notice. I think Jake Bentley will have to have his best game of his career and take the next step against an upper tier opponent. I have been hesitant to give Bentley the praise other Carolina fans give due to his carelessness with the ball in big games. I must say, I do think Bentley and company take the next step and put some points up on the Dogs. The question is can the Gamecocks defense get off the field on third and fourth down. If they can get Jake Fromm off the field and wear the Dogs down they have a real shot. I see it either being a close win for the Gamecocks or a 14 point comfortable win for Georgia. My pick is Muschamp and company take the next step and win 31-27.
Kody: Part of what makes this game so great is how difficult it’s been to predict throughout the past 10-15 years. Even when the team that “should” win walks away with the victory, things often play out quite a bit differently than expected -- and so I don’t think Georgia’s going to just walk all over the Gamecocks. With both both teams breaking in a lot of new and young defensive players, I think each offense will have success moving the ball. To that end, I look for this to be a shootout that’s back-and-forth (and highly stress-inducing) for at least three quarters. But the brutal heat and the ability of each team to keep clicking late will be huge down the stretch, and I worry that Georgia just has more horses to carry them through to the finish line. I’ll go with 35-21 Dawgs, with the Gamecocks putting forth a brave effort but falling just short of that signature win.
Katie: As GABA’s resident Eternal Sports Optimist, I am again predicting a win this week, mostly because I will be really bummed if the Gamecocks lose. Playing Georgia is probably going to be slightly more of a challenge than playing Coastal was, but it’s been a while since USC beat UGA, and frankly, I think it’s time to change that. Part of me thinks it could be good if like two-thirds of Georgia’s starters get suspended right before the game and can’t play, but a win over the who’s-that-guys of the Bulldogs wouldn’t be as rewarding as a win against the starters. In all seriousness, I really do think USC has a legit shot at beating the Bulldogs on Saturday. Definitely not in a blow out or anything, but I think the Gamecocks could pull off the upset, especially with a hyped up home crowd working in their favor.
Demetri: Georgia is very good. South Carolina is very fine. I like that the offense is a little more unpredictable this year than it has been since probably 2010, but overall, I think there is still a talent gap the Cocks have to contend with.
I am going to hold out hope that we have not seen the best the new playbook has to offer, but my gut says this is the first loss of the year. I genuinely think of Carolina’s two “big time” opponents this season, they are more likely to pull the upset on Clemson later in the year when the offense is a more well oiled machine. I’ll go UGA in this one 34-24.
DC3: everyone knows me as your typical get-off-my-lawn type of old fuddy duddy when it comes to predicting scores for Carolina games. I don’t know if it’s three decades of Gamecock football that have worn me to a withered driftwood version of my former self, or I’m just a party pooper. Either way, this year’s team is quite adequate, good even, from a pure talent perspective. This squad will play in a very nice bowl game (likely in the month of January) and will enjoy some great moments along the way. The University of Georgia is the first version of the Death Star. Only a precise, timely attack on it’s only vulnerability (defensive secondary), sprinkled with a HUGE helping of the force, will destroy it. Do the Gamecocks have such an attack planned? I don’t know. X-Wing fighters would help. UGA wins this in a battle that it was never going to lose. We just wished it was the other way around. 38-21.