Before the season began I said I thought the Gamecocks would win one this year that they shouldn't and lose one they shouldn't. Assuming that the Kentucky loss was the one they shouldn't have taken, the Gamecocks are then due for an upset. All week I had been pretty sure I was going to pick the Gamecocks to beat Georgia. That was back when this game was going to be played in front of a packed Williams-Brice on Saturday night. The Billy Brice has been a nightmare for Georgia in recent years, as Todd Gurley can attest. The last time Georgia won a game in Columbia was 2008. Now that this year's game is being played at 2:30 on Sunday at a likely half-full stadium in a state recovering from a severe hurricane, the home field advantage that the Gamecocks can usually count on will be greatly diminished. This makes what I expect to be a close game harder to pick confidently in favor of Carolina.
I'm going to pick the Gamecocks anyway, though. We'll get Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards back this week, and with Perry Orth likely to start I think the Gamecocks will try to challenge Georgia's relatively average (compared to other SEC teams) secondary early and often. This will open things up for Rico Dowdle to find some success in the run game and hopefully give SC a chance to control the pace of the game more than they have so far this season. The struggling O-line will also play better against Georgia's smaller front seven. Overall I think this will be a much better match-up for the offense than we've seen the last two weeks and I think SC finally gets more than one TD against an SEC opponent.
Defensively the Gamecocks have been playing very well. We're currently 6th in the SEC and 23rd in the country in scoring defense. Considering how much they've been on the field due to poor offense, that is quite an achievement. They've also been showing improvement week-to-week on that side of the ball, and I expect that to continue. Georgia obviously has Nick Chubb in the back-field, but the Georgia OL has been struggling to open holes consistently. Georgia is going to have success running the ball, especially late in the game, but I think the defense makes enough plays to keep them out of the end zone just enough to win a close one.
Prediction: USC 20 - Georgia 17