Time: 12:00p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. CT
Venue: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC.
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
Spread: The Gamecocks are favored by 6.5
The Gators and Gamecocks first met in 1911 with a 6-6 tie and have played annually as members of the SEC East since 1992. Florida holds an overall 28-8-3 edge over Carolina and are 25-3 since the conference realigned. The last four games have been decided by 13 points or fewer and the Gators have won the last two. Former Florida Gator Legend Steve Spurrier coached at both schools in the 90’s and 2000’s and current South Carolina head Coach Will Muschamp welcomes his former team into Columbia for the first time since becoming head coach in 2016.
- The Gators will wear the classic orange lids, white tops and blue bottoms.
- The Gamecocks will wear the “Big Game Garnet” uniforms with the classic white helmets and black socks.
News & Injuries
- Florida injury list: Brett Heggie (knee- out), Malik Davis (knee - out), Jachai Polite (shoulder - out), Kadarius Toney (shoulder - out), Nick Washington (shoulder - questionable), Kylan Johnson (hamstring - questionable), Lamical Perine (knee - questionable), Jabari Zuniga (ankle - probable)
- South Carolina injury list: Rico Dowdle (leg - out), Chad Terrell (ankle - questionable), Malik Young (ankle - questionable), Kyle Markaway (ribs - questionable), Terry Googer (concussion - questionable), D.J. Smith (hip - questionable).
- Seven of Florida’s “Knucklehead Nine” will get their day in court this week.
- South Carolina Bowl Projections.
- Florida Coaching Search Rumors and Candidates
Public Service Announcement pic.twitter.com/VRsG77U2qE— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) November 9, 2017
Florida Gators 3-5 (3-4)
The Florida Gators are on a disastrous four game losing streak (0 for October) and are fresh off a 45-16 drubbing at the hands of Missouri who was previously win-less in conference play. Interim Head Coach Randy Shannon is 0-1 since taking over last week when Scott Stricklin promptly ended the McElwain Project in Gainesville.
Last Saturday, the Gators came out with zero energy and Drew Lock took full advantage. The Tigers torched the Gators for 455 yards of offense and 45 points which is the first time the mighty Florida Gators have given up 40 points to back to back opponents since 1917.
The offense, led by Malik Zaire, was putrid in the first half. The first seven drives ended in punt, fumble, punt, field goal, interception and field goal and saw the Gators down 28-6 at the half. From that point, the defense phoned it in knowing that the offense has only scored more than 28 points once the entire year and the light bulb would not be coming on in the second half against the Tigers. Rewind to the Georgia game and the results were the same against a better team.
The offense will be without major playmakers Malik Davis and Kadarius Toney. They will have to get a spark from Zaire in the passing game. It will be imperative to control the run game early if the Gators have any hope of beating the Gamecocks.
Florida's downfield passing game has been almost non-existent this season. pic.twitter.com/cVVo5CDVLv— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) November 8, 2017
It is a shame for the players, but the offense will need to give the defense something to play for early unless the team wants to be at the losing end of another blowout. Young leaders like linebacker David Reese will need to set the edge and provide the much-needed effort that has been harped on all week.
It appears the Florida team, coaches and fanbase have all but checked out with the promise of a new coaching staff in Gainesville this Spring. That is unfortunate for everyone involved. For a proud program that has only failed to qualify for a bowl game once since 1986, this team is looking right down the barrel of a 3-8 finish and no postseason.
At 3-5, the Gators have South Carolina, UAB and Florida State left on the schedule and will need to win all three to become bowl eligible. A slim chance still remains if the Gators finish 5-6 that they could make a bowl game because of their high Academic Progress Rate score.
A season that began with so much promise is coming to an end with the same feeling as 2010, 2013 and 2014, leaving everyone in orange & blue to hope for the best as the team finishes out the year. Win or lose, it will be a great opportunity for the young players on both side of the ball to get SEC playing experience leading into next year... where hope is on the horizon.
South Carolina Gamecocks 6-3 (4-3)
The Gamecocks are coming off a 24-10 loss at the hands of the #1 Georgia Bulldogs but were on a 3 game win streak in the SEC before that. The Gamecocks have taken the identity of their head coach and the close wins over the month of October are indicative of a team that will be in every game. Since losing play maker Deebo Samuel, the Gamecocks have struggled to be consistent on offense (335 yards/game) and the injury to running back Rico Dowdle has forced other backs to carry the load.
The big difference is the Gamecocks have dealt with adversity better than the Gators and the record shows it. Jake Bentley is one of the more efficient and aware quarterbacks in the SEC and has proven he can move the offense against average defenses (48 points against Arkansas), but inconsistencies and slow starts caused the offense to struggle against Kentucky and Louisiana Tech.
#Gators ranked 111th nationally in total offense (338.1 yards per game), three spots ahead of South Carolina (114th, 335.2 ypg).— Scott Carter (@GatorsScott) November 10, 2017
The Carolina defense has struggled to get off the field on third down and rank 114th nationally in the FBS. Good news for the Gamecocks is they will be up against the junior varsity offense Doug Nussmeier puts on the field and they have Will Muschamp and Tavares Robinson on the home sideline to make life difficult for Zaire and company. The defensive front averages two sacks per game, but again will be playing Florida who give up 3.5 sacks per game, good for 122nd in the FBS.
The big boys up front, Dante Sawyer and DJ Wonnum (along with All-SEC linbacker Skai Moore), will most likely have career days getting to the quarterback. The battle between Carolina’s corners Jamyest Williams and Jamarcus King versus the Gators only real threat — wide out Tyrie Cleveland — will be the match up to watch with the Carolina defense on the field. Both teams give up less than 390 yards per game and are led by defensive-minded leaders, so expect the conservative approach to play out on both sides.
Top graded SEC Edge Defenders through WK10:— Vinnie Ronca (@PFF_Vinnie) November 7, 2017
Keys to the Game
The Florida team was embarrassed at Missouri and the loss was attributable to effort for the first time all season. The defense has been bailing the offense out for seven years and finally doesn’t have the depth, experience and mental toughness to compete at the highest level. Missouri’s offense shredded the lackluster defense and the offense is not good enough to make up the deficit. We will know very early Saturday morning which Gator team shows up.
“I thought it was a positive when I heard about it.’’ — Shannon on Reese’s comments— Scott Carter (@GatorsScott) November 6, 2017
Young leaders David Reese and Chauncey Gardner will have to back up their comments from this week.
We never quit on the season, tired of hearing this ....— Chauncey Gardner Jr (@CGJXXIII) November 6, 2017
The young Gator secondary has shown that they can make life Hell for average to mediocre quarterbacks (Wilton Speight & Quintin Dormady), but can give up big plays to competent quarterbacks with multiple receiver options (Kyle Shurmer & Drew Lock). Which one will Jake Bentley be on Saturday?
Top graded SEC QBs through WK10:— Vinnie Ronca (@PFF_Vinnie) November 7, 2017
Against Missouri, the Gators were once again less than 40% on third down while allowing the Tigers to convert 63% of the time. This has been the story of the season as Doug Nussmeier has failed to put a plan together and the players continuously fail to execute on third down. Neither Florida or South Carolina convert on third downs very well (USC 71st, UF 112th), but the key to this game will be which mediocre offense can sustain drives and keep the other team’s defense on the field.
After watching the mess Florida put on the field last weekend, it is hard to see the Gators winning any more of their games, especially not against an overachieving South Carolina team on the road. After close losses to LSU and Texas A&M where the defense played tough all four quarters, the Gators have been blown out by two teams they were expected to beat and compete with all while losing their head coach halfway through the season. Unless David Reese and Randy Shannon make good on their promises to bring more energy to Columbia, this game could get ugly in a hurry. Throw in the fact that Muschamp would love to stick it to the Gators and this game could look a lot like last week.
I expect South Carolina to run their game plan and let the Gators make their own mistakes, because it has worked for everyone else this year (well, except Kentucky). Bentley is a smart player and Kurt Roper will try to put him in good positions to move the ball. If the Gamecocks can limit turnovers, control the clock and get up early, this game will be over before the half. Florida just doesn't have enough on offense to score and would need some early luck or a drastically changed game plan to put pressure on the South Carolina offense.
A win for the Gamecocks would secure at least a tie for second place in the SEC East and this team has so much more to play for than Florida at this point in the season. Brace yourselves for lots of punts and 3-and-out from these two juggernauts.