Our very own South Carolina Gamecocks enter tomorrow’s matchup riding high after an unexpected and thrilling upset of the Dawgs in Athens. Up next is another top-10 opponent, this time the Florida Gators, and another chance to continue turning this season around and prove UGA wasn’t just a fluke. Here’s how the GABA gang sees it playing out.
Kody: Before the season started, I had Florida circled as the most likely top-25 upset for the Gamecocks. I just haven’t been overly impressed with the Dan Mullen hype so far, and the Gators have consistently played some of the most underwhelming football for a top-10 team in recent memory. However, with Feleipe Franks out of the picture and Kyle Trask now at the reins at quarterback, Florida’s offense is actually looking potent. I still think this is a beatable team, particularly with a couple key absences on the Gators’ defense and their recent struggles against handling the run, but it’s going to be a lot harder than it looked at the beginning of the year. (Ryan Hilinski’s health may end up being a bit of a wildcard, too.) All I know is that I’m really, really hoping the Gamecocks can finally flush last year’s mind-bending loss. I’ll take a page out of Katie’s book and be optimistic here, calling for a 31-28 USC win.
Katie: The optimism is spreading!!!!! As the resident Eternal Sports Optimist at GABA and after the Gamecocks pulled off a heart attack-causing win against Georgia last week, I have no choice but to predict another upset this week. I honestly didn’t even realize until last week that Florida had been undefeated up to that point, but that might have been because I was choosing to not know it. Regardless, I think the Gators are beatable, given that they were in fact beaten last week, and while I’m not saying South Carolina is on the same level as LSU, perhaps the Gators will now be on a downward spiral that ends with them finishing a disgraced 6-6 and going BELK-ing while USC rides its momentum and wins every game for the rest of the season. A girl can dream. P.S. Get the win any way you can against the Gators, but maybe don’t make it involve multiple weird calls, missed kicks, and overtimes. Kthx.
Matt: I honestly don’t know what to think for this week. When I’m optimistic, the Gamecocks usually lose in brutal fashion. When I’m a realist or slightly pessimistic, the Gamecocks play the game of their lives. This defense has been playing out of their minds and I think they will definitely make things hard on Kyle Trask. Also, I view Trask as an improvement to Franks, but I think people are getting ahead of themselves with his praise. He hasn’t played a real defense thus far and people are overreacting to his performance against LSU, a team that’s pretty weak defensively. I think he’s in for a rude awakening against USC. Another big point: the weather is going to be terrible. So, it might turn into a “who runs the ball better” game. I also wonder if anyone remembers the weather in the Cocks’ best win of last season… Despite that, I’m calling for a 27-24 Florida victory. This feels too good to be true and I can’t see South Carolina playing mistake-free football two weeks in a row against two legit teams. Either that or I may be giving the fans in Gainesville a classic jinx.
Adam: The narrative surrounding this game is the most intriguing of the season so far. Can Florida psychologically rebound from that loss to LSU in yet another hostile environment? Can South Carolina regain focus after a huge win in Athens? The better coaching staff will prevail, and I like Muschamp’s chances here. I believe Dowdle and Feaster will both find space against this Gator defense. Running the ball well should (weather permitting) set up a decent passing attack from Hilinski, too. And I don’t even have to comment on that Gamecock defense...those are some grown men that are more than capable of making Kyle Trask miserable all day. Carolina wins a slugfest, 27-20.