Sure, The Citadel Bulldogs are an FCS opponent coming in to Williams-Brice for a paycheck, but the Bulldogs want more than that. As co-champions of the Southern Conference at 7-3 overall, it won't be cupcake weekend for the 3-7 Gamecocks. The Bulldogs think they have a chance in this one, and South Carolina is sure to get their best shot.
Here's three keys to the game for the Gamecocks to avoid a shock:
1. Contain the triple option. Clearly the most important factor heading into this game, if South Carolina proves unable to contain quarterback Dominique Allen and the Bulldogs triple option they will probably lose. It's as simple as that. The Citadel's offense relies on it's triple option attack rushing for nearly 350 yards a game compared to just over 80 ypg throwing. Allen has led the Bulldogs offense all year compiling nearly 700 rushing yards and 11 TD's and is the team's most dangerous rusher and biggest playmaking threat.
The Gamecocks defense has been faced with some daunting tasks this year, but going up against the triple option this weekend leaves them with their hands full. If they didn't take preparations seriously this week going up against the intricate and deceptive attack, they'll be in for some trouble come Saturday afternoon. Don't expect the Gamecocks defense to not give up yards to this attack. That, they probably can't stop. But what they can prevent is points on the scoreboard. Bend but don't break.
2. A rushing offense. After taking himself out of the LSU game, Brandon Wilds burst back onto the scene for the Gamecocks from a rib injury to rush for back-to-back 100 yard games against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M. Wilds and co. have slowed as of late and were shut down against a very talented Florida defense last week, which ultimately forced QB Perry Orth to try to make too many plays with a wounded receiving corps.
For the Gamecocks to take care of business Saturday, they'll need a heavy of dose of Wilds, David Williams and Shon Carson to keep the clock moving and keep the triple option attack of The Citadel off the field. Much like Florida dominated possession and third down last week, the Gamecocks will need to do the same this week.
3. Play for pride. Other than a potential upset against rival Clemson Thanksgiving weekend, the Gamecocks don't have much left to look forward too in 2015. That said, this team has only experienced a win three times this season, and should still hunger for one even against a perceived lesser opponent. Motivation hasn't been a factor thus far with interim head coach Shawn Elliot, but with what's sure to be a less than capacity stadium and early start, the Gamecocks will need to find there own Saturday. As Skai Moore eluded to this week, the team needs to play for one another and the names represented on their garnet uniforms.
Prediction: Do I expect the Gamecocks to lose? No. Do I think it's inside the realm of possibility? Absolutely. This won't be a 70-10 game like we saw against FCS Coastal Carolina a few years ago. The Bulldogs will come out hungry, and may even take a lead into halftime (mainly because we just don't know how to). But, eventually, the Gamecocks physicality and strength will wear down the lesser bodies of The Citadel and help South Carolina pull away late to provide a much needed win before heading into rivalry week and a chance to spoil a Clemson CFP run.
Gamecocks 38 - Bulldogs 21.