When the 2010s began, the South Carolina Gamecocks were looking to erase a long string of woes against the rival Georgia Bulldogs. The Gamecocks had lost all but one game to Georgia — a 16-12 victory at the beginning of the 2007 season. Other than that, it was a series owned by UGA, and one that didn’t feature too many blowouts either.
South Carolina was able to put together a run of their own, winning the first three games of the decade. But since then, it’s felt like old times. And not in the way they’d like. The Dawgs have won five of the last six to South Carolina, including each of the last four. Unlike the days of the aughts, these last four contests have been rather uncompetitive. SC has lost by 32, 14, 14 and 24, good for an average margin of defeat of 21.
Unfortunately, Will Muschamp’s bunch are likely to run into the same issues come Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks must go between the hedges and pull off a stunner, and playing at Sanford Stadium hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows for them. The Gamecocks have only scored five victories in the Dawgs’ home dwelling in the last 30 years.
It will be interesting to see how this game is played on the ground. Neither defense is giving up much of an inch in the run game, as Georgia and South Carolina come into this game allowing just 2.3 and 3.8 yards per carry respectively. UGA’s mark is obviously more gaudy, as they were tied for fourth in the nation in that category heading into Friday with the Wyoming Cowboys and the N.C. State Wolfpack. The Gamecocks ranked 52nd heading into play on Friday in that category, and while that’s not great, it’s still hovering above average. But they haven’t faced any running backs quite like the ones they will on Saturday, as D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien, Zamir White and James Cook obviously pack a hell of a punch.
If there’s one ‘weakness’ for either side defensively, it’s the passing game. South Carolina, in particular, has been getting slow roasted all season long. They rank 97th against the pass this season, a devilish mark to be sure. But it does come with a bit of context, to be fair, a lot of that is bloated because of the 495 yards they gave up to the Alabama Crimson Tide in their third game of the season, and they did only give up 97 yards through the air last week to the Kentucky Wildcats. That said, can Jake Fromm crack the code? He’s got plenty of talent around him to throw to, especially Lawrence Cager. Cager has gone off in his last two games, pulling in a combined 10 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
It’s been a bit of a tough grind for the South Carolina offense through the air though. Georgia, ranked 62nd in pass defense, could face similar issues if they don’t shore things up. They’ve given up 548 passing yards and four touchdowns in their last two games to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Tennessee Volunteers. While Tennessee completed just 45.5 percent of their passes last week, Ryan Hilinski certainly has the skillset to likely fare better than that, lest the tough environment wreak havoc on him.
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