There was a time when the annual game between Georgia and South Carolina served more or less as a barometer of how the teams' seasons would go. The winner would have a solid year, contending for the SEC East title if it were Georgia or going for an eight- or nine-win season in the case of South Carolina. In recent years, the game has lost some of that predictive value; the winner has not won the SEC East, or even finished ahead of the loser in the division standings, since 2010.
And there's no doubt that with South Carolina's declining fortunes over the last two seasons, the game has become less of a marquee event than it was when both teams were capable of winning double-digit games and getting into the race for the conference title. While the game is one of South Carolina's few true SEC rivalries, it's never going to have the kind of cachet that an Auburn-Alabama or Florida-Georgia rivalry has, something that makes for compelling viewing no matter what the respective records are.
But as long as Steve Spurrier coaches in Columbia -- more on that in a moment -- there's going to be a degree of must-see to this game. There are three opponents that Spurrier virtually always has his team ready to play against: Georgia, Florida and Clemson. The latter is simply to keep the fan base happy, but the first two are personal. Georgia is the only one of those that he truly hates, and the one where the opposing fan base loves to hate him back. As long as that dynamic's in play, the Gamecock-Bulldog clash will never be entirely on the backburner.
1An insane line. Listen, in a normal world, Georgia would easily be able to cover a line that's crept up to -17 in some books. But we do not live in a normal world. A win of that size for either team is the kind of thing that only happens once every five years or so. Since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992, the game has been decided by more than 14 points just seven times. In the last ten meetings between these two teams, it's happened twice: Georgia's 18-0 win in 2006 and South Carolina's 35-7 shellacking of the Dawgs in 2012. Nothing on this site should ever be taken as gambling advice, because I happen to think that there are wiser ways to use your money than betting it on the performance of 18- to 22-year-olds you don't know. But any line above 10 points for a game in this series is really high.
2Steve Spurrier's Alamo? As much as I would love to say that my call for Steve Spurrier to retire was some sort of original and cutting-edge analysis, it turns out that a lot of people were thinking along the same lines. National writers are also beginning to ask whether this is Spurrier's last season, or even treating it like a foregone conclusion that this is the end of the road for the Head Ball Coach. This is why you have seen near-panic set in among some Georgia fans in various corners of the Interwebs. Spurrier is never quite so dangerous as when he's backed into a corner, and if he really thinks that this is his final season in Columbia, he's going to try to make sure that he takes Georgia's SEC East title hopes down with him.
Jim Dedmon -- USA Today Sports
3Better offenses than expected? There's a case to be made here that Georgia and South Carolina have the potential to be more explosive than you think. If you look at total yardage, Georgia ranks seventh in the SEC and South Carolina ranks 10th. But part of that is because of the number of plays they've run -- both rank in the bottom five of the conference by that measure. On a per-play basis, Georgia ranks third in the SEC and South Carolina ranks seventh. And both have played at least one conference game. South Carolina's success rates in its first two games -- which are here and here -- might make you want to tap the brakes on the idea that the Gamecocks are a secretly good team on offense, but there's a chance for some big plays here. (Non-success rate numbers taken from cfbstats.com.)
4Those quarterbacks tho. Both teams face uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into this one. With Connor Mitch out, the Gamecocks will turn to Perry Orth. Having watched both of South Carolina's games, I can't help but think that Orth is the better option to begin with, though that perception is largely based on him coming in after there was already trouble in the Kentucky game. We'll find out this week how Orth fares when he's the man from the beginning of the game. As for Georgia's Greyson Lambert -- well, the start at Vanderbilt wasn't encouraging. He completed barely half of his passes (11 of 21) and averaged 5.5 yards per attempt. His quarterback rating was below 100, which is awful in college football. But Lambert was on the road in the Vanderbilt game and will be home for South Carolina, against what looks to once again be a porous defense.
5A presidential visit? Well, technically, it's a presidential candidate visit. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is going to be in attendance for the game between two teams from early presidential primary states, which I'm sure is a massive coincidence not at all influenced by the fact that Gov. Bush is trying to win the Republican nomination for the White House. It's the fall before a presidential election year, so folks with teams from states like Iowa and South Carolina (there are no Power 5 teams in New Hampshire or Nevada) might as well get used to tailgating with people who want to talk about Medicaid reform. Have fun!
THREE TO WATCH
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Like there was a chance he wasn't going to be on this list. Two games in, the All-Universe running back has a mere 309 yards on 35 carries, for an average of 8.8 yards per carry. He already has 10 rushes of at least 10 yards and five runs of at least 20 yards in 2015. That would put him on pace for 60 rushes of 10 or more yards and 30 runs of at least 20 yards for the regular season. Sony Michel and Keith Marshall aren't shabby either, but Chubb is the guy that makes the Georgia running attack function.
Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia: Jenkins ranks in the top 10 in the SEC in tackles and second in sacks. The senior leads Georgia with 18 tackles, with 6.5 of those causing losses and three of those being sacks. He also has seven quarterback hurries to his name. All but one of those tackles for loss, by the way, came in a breakout game against Vanderbilt. Jenkins' performance in that game was good enough to get him the Chuck Bednarik Award National Player of the Week honors. If Jenkins keep playing like this, he could have the year-long award at the end of the season.
Christopher Hanewinckel -- USA Today Sports
Perry Orth, QB, South Carolina: Yes, Pharoh Cooper is still the best player on the South Carolina offense and, yes, Steve Spurrier would still be best served by going to the ground game early and often. But if the Gamecocks are going to win this game, and if they want to have any hope of being competitive for the rest of the season, they need someone at the quarterback position to step up. And Orth has the best chance of anybody, certainly for the time being. His line so far is solid -- 15-of-22 for 203 yards, a touchdown and an interception -- but South Carolina had better hope he can do even more.
The Vegas line might be ridiculous, but the idea that Georgia will win this game is far from it. There's always the chance that Spurrier and Co. could pull off the kind of crazy ambush that worked so well last year, but hoping for that two years in a row is a little bit much. Both teams have question marks about their passing game, but Georgia has Nick Chubb to run the ball while the Gamecocks have Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson. They're nice players, but they're not Nick Chubb. It will be close because this game is always close, but there's no reason to pick against the Bulldogs here. Georgia 32, South Carolina 27