The reason people buy lottery tickets isn't that they really think they're going to hit the jackpot. What they're paying for is the ability to fantasize about what they would do and how their lives would change, and they get to have those dreams right up until the numbers are picked. The Gamecocks playing a big-time game against the #1 team in the nation is a lot like that for me. All week I've enjoyed imagining the impact of a huge South Carolina win between the hedges, and how much fun it would be to watch that win unfold. The chances of the Gamecocks pulling out a victory may be a lot better than those of hitting the lottery, but unfortunately they're not that much better.
- Apart from QB and maybe DB, there's not a position group where Georgia is not more talented, more experienced, and deeper. Every Gamecock player, and especially Bentley, is going to need to play out of their minds for SC to have a chance in this game.
- SC has to keep the Nickel on the bench and drop a safety into the box on every play. Fromm will hit some big passes against this, but that is better than giving 8 yards rushing on every play. Georgia is one of the best teams in the nation in converting 3rd Downs, because they're so successful on 1st and 2nd Downs that they almost always have 3rd & Short.
- The best strategy on offense is difficult to determine. Ideally they would be able to run the ball and take up as much time as possible. Accomplishing this against a great Georgia front-7 is not likely however, so the Gamecocks' best bet will be aggressiveness in the vertical passing game. Georgia surprisingly hasn't racked up that many sacks this year, so Bentley should be able to find time to throw. Shi Smith will need to use his speed to get behind the safeties and Edwards and OrTre Smith will need to win some 50/50 balls. Hurst needs to be threat in the middle as well, although I expect us to throw balls towards the sidelines to limit turnovers.
- Speaking of turnovers, the Gamecocks will need to force about 3 of these, and give up none to have a chance in the 4th Quarter.
- The Gamecocks are in a perfect position really. Everybody already expects this to be a blowout, so there's not much downside. They can play loose and be aggressive and just have fun. Georgia is the team with all the expectations. Coming off a big rivalry game, with another big one coming up next week (against a better team than SC), and having that #1 ranking next to their name can't help them. They have demolished each of their last 6 opponents by an average of 31.3 points, so they're due for a letdown. Will a letdown for the Dawgs be enough for the Gamecocks to take advantage?
The line on the game currently sits at Georgia -23.5. Prediction: USC 17 - Georgia 38. The lady of the house is more optimistic for the Gamecocks' chances and has the score at USC 35 - Georgia 34.
See last year's Sunday match-up with the Bulldogs below.