Intangibles probably only matter at the margins, if they matter at all. A more motivated team might play hard enough to make up for a talent difference, but only for so long; home-field advantage can become a lot less significant if a few quick scores can proverbially take the crowd out of the game.
But what about when a game has so many intangibles? And so many intangibles that are so clear?
Georgia, after all, arguably needs this game more. There's a plausible if somewhat difficult path for South Carolina to get back into SEC East contention even with a loss in this game. But if the Dawgs lose against the Gamecocks at home tonight, a schedule with games against LSU and Florida still in the offing doesn't look friendly for the kind of rebound Georgia's seen over the last two years.
Oh, and the two stars of the game want to prove themselves, as if Aaron Murray and Jadeveon Clowney haven't already proven that they are the best offensive and defensively players, respectively, in the talent-rich SEC. But Murray's strong effort against Clemson last week didn't lead to a win, and Clowney was seen huffing and puffing more than the Big Bad Wolf during South Carolina's game against UNC, so both of them will want to have a huge game to prove that they aren't what the talking heads have made them out to be over the last week.
And we could go on. Steve Spurrier vs. the Bulldogs. Home-field advantage. South Carolina has now won three in a row for the first time after Georgia historically dominated the series. There are almost as many subplots to this game as there are players and coaches. Choose your narrative and follow it through the game; it's unlikely you'll be disappointed.
But here's what we know. We know that South Carolina shut down North Carolina's offense, holding it to fewer than 300 yards for the first time since Larry Fedora took over as head coach before last season. We know that the Gamecocks' offense looked very good in the first quarter and merely serviceable for the rest of the game.
For Georgia, we know the offense looked very good against a Clemson defense that has yet to prove itself. Churning out 545 yards against any AQ opponent is a great day, regardless of the opponent and the circumstances. And while we know that the defense got sliced and diced to the tun of allowing 467 yards to Clemson, that offense i likely to make a lot of defenses look foolish before the year is out.
Which leads us back to one of those intangible: The three consecutive wins that South Carolina has notched starting with 2010. Add in the fact that it's hard to beat any team four times in a row, and I'll go against my heart and with my head -- the Bulldogs win yet another close one in a series full of them.
Georgia 24, South Carolina 21