When: Sunday, October 9, 2016
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Odds: The Bulldogs are currently 6.5-point favorites, via OddsShark.
After being delayed for a day due to Hurricane Matthew, the SEC East showdown between the Georgia Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) and the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-3, 1-3) will take place on Sunday afternoon in Columbia.
Both teams enter Sunday in dire need of a win. The Bulldogs began the Kirby Smart era 3-0, before dropping two straight and now sit in fourth place in the SEC East. For the Gamecocks, they gave a valiant effort last week before falling to No. 8 Texas A&M, 24-13.
Weather shouldn’t be an issue in South Carolina as temperatures are expected to be in the upper 70s and sunny on Sunday afternoon.
Georgia freshman quarterback Jacob Eason has certainly had his ups and downs in 2016. He struggled mightily in a blowout loss to Ole Miss before rebounding last week with a strong performance in a heartbreaking loss to Tennessee. Eason led the ‘Dawgs to what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown before UT connected on a hail mary as time expired to break Georgia’s hearts.
Star running back Nick Chubb rushed for 200 yards in the season opener but has yet to crack the 100-yard mark since. Chubb suffered an ankle injury in the loss to Ole Miss and carried the ball just one time last week. Georgia cleared Chubb and he will be in the lineup against the Gamecocks.
UGA tailback Nick Chubb cleared for South Carolina https://t.co/l5Y90dV42z— AJC UGA (@ChipTowersAJC) October 3, 2016
A freshman quarterback also leads the Gamecocks: Brandon McIlwain. While McIlwain wasn’t as highly recruited as Eason, he’s a dynamic dual-threat, capable of taking over games with his arm or legs. On the season, McIlwain has passed for over 500 yards and two scores, while also rushing for 98 yards and two more scores.
Senior Perry Orth will also likely see time under center for USC.
Georgia RB Nick Chubb: The Bulldogs didn’t lose last week because Chubb didn’t play. UGA ran the ball well with Sony Michel and Brian Herrien, who combined for 165 yards and a touchdown.
However, this Georgia team needs Chubb. He is one of the most talented players in college football and is capable of taking games over by himself. A healthy Chubb should get 20-25 carries per game.
Depending on the condition of the field, coaches may take it easy on Chubb, but he needs to be heavily involved as the ‘Dawgs cannot afford another conference loss this season if they expect to still have a shot at the SEC East.
South Carolina RB A.J. Turner: Carolina’s freshman running back is coming off the best game of his young career. Turner rushed for 113 yards on just 10 attempts last week. As the season has worn on, coaches have managed to get Turner more involved in the offense.
If the Gamecocks expect to beat Georgia, they better get Turner involved early and often. Turner is a speed back that does most of his damage outside of the tackles. By getting him involved in the passing game, too, it makes the job of McIlwain that much easier.
So, what happens?
Expect this to be a physical and competitive matchup. The Gamecocks and new coach Will Muschamp are looking for their first signature win. A victory over Georgia would certainly provide that.
The Bulldogs need this one much more than the ‘Cocks, though. No one expected Carolina to be any good in 2016. Folks expected more from the Bulldogs. While an SEC East title is still a stretch at this point, the ‘Dawgs are still alive.
Eason will have a big day and Georgia survives another scare and wins this one with a dominant fourth quarter.
Prediction: Georgia 23, South Carolina 17