South Carolina Vs. LSU Preview: When What You Know Contradicts What You Thought

Kevin C. Cox - Getty Images

Very few people gave South Carolina a chance to win this game in the preseason. That's changing now.

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. LSU Tigers, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

What are you going to trust: Your preseason notion of how good these teams are, or your lying eyes? It doesn't break down quite that simply, of course. There are plenty of solid reasons to pick LSU, and plenty of solid reasons to pick South Carolina.

But as someone who would love to find a reason to pick against South Carolina, in keeping with my cautious anti-homerism streak and my preseason pick for this game, I'm having a hard time doing it. It's not that I don't think that LSU is still a solid SEC team; I do. But when I look at the weaknesses I see in the Tigers, and the strengths I see in the Gamecocks, this looks like a particularly good matchup for South Carolina.

You don't need me to point out just how good the Gamecocks' defensive line is; if you've watched college football at all this season, you know it's one of the best in the game. And you don't need to be told that LSU's offense is a slumbering giant that never wakes up; that's been a recurring storyline in Baton Rouge now for most of Les Miles' tenure.

Those are at the heart, though, of why I think South Carolina is likely to win this game. LSU's offensive line looked completely overwhelmed by Florida's at times last week, and Zach Mettenberger seemed to have almost no pocket awareness. Against the Gamecocks, that's the kind of thing that could drive the sacks number very close to double digits. And that will help keep South Carolina's one potential defensive weakness, the secondary, from jeopardizing a possible win.

While neither offense is anything special, South Carolina's has looked better this year when it comes to moving the ball and putting points on the board. It doesn't hurt that LSU's rushing defense is perhaps the one weak link, or at least the weakest link in a very strong chain. The run game is one of South Carolina's specialties, in case you haven't heard, and Marcus Lattimore is starting to warm up. As much as I hate to do it, I'm going with the Gamecocks.

South Carolina 17, LSU 10

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