No. 1 Florida Gators (9-0, 3-4-1 ATS) at South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4, 5-3 ATS) Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C Saturday November 14th, 3:30PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Points Spread: Florida -15/South Carolina +15
The top ranked Florida Gators continue their march to perfection this weekend when they travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks. Most experts feel this is the last team remaining on the Gators schedule that could pull of an upset over Florida, but that occurrence is still far from expected. Florida rolls into the contest fresh off a 27-3 victory at home over the Vanderbilt Commodores and are now anticipating their final road game left on the regular season schedule.
The Gamecocks started off with a big bang to the season, but as they have so many times in recent years they have started collapsing towards the end of the season. South Carolina has dropped 3 of their last 4 games and they have a legitimate possibility of losing the final two games on their schedule which would equal a 6-6 campaign after a 5-1 start. However, the Gamecocks young football team will attempt to give the Gators their best shot as South Carolina will seek to capture their first victory over a no. 1 ranked opponent.
The Gamecocks may look a little different as they take the field against the Gators this weekend. South Carolina will be 1 of 2 schools promoting the “Wounded Warrior” Campaign in tribute to the armed forces just a few days following Veterans Day. The Gamecocks will be wearing black uniforms with desert camouflage outlining for the contests. The new look for the Gamecocks will hopefully produce some new results and prevent history from repeating these late season collapses over the past few years.
The South Carolina offense has moved the ball in recent weeks, but they have not been able to get any points when getting into the red zone. QB Stephen Garcia ranks 2nd in the SEC in passing and has recorded 3 straight 300 yards passing performances for the first time in his career. However, South Carolina is averaging just 14 points per game over the past 3 outings. If South Carolina is to score the big upset, they have to find a way to put the ball in the end zone for 7 points.
Freshman WR Alshon Jeffery continues to be the new go to guy. Jeffery has 552 yards over the last 5 games including 5 touchdowns. Jeffery is a big body receiver who was highly recruited and is proving he is going to have a very bright future. Jeffery broke open an 80 yard touchdown pass on the first play of the 2nd half loss against Arkansas last week and the Gamecocks will need all types of similar big plays this Saturday.
The Gators completely blew out South Carolina last year at home 56-6. Florida has owned South Carolina in the history of the series with a mark of 17-1 in the last 18 meetings. The only loss the Gators suffered was back in 2005 in Columbia that derailed their chances to compete in the SEC Championship. However Florida is already locked into the SEC Championship, but another upset loss could impact their National Championship hopes.
One big factor the Gators have going for them heading into the contest, is that South Carolina has not been able to stop the run recently. The Gamecocks are allowing 145 yards per contest and that is good news for a Gators rushing offense that ranks 8th in the nation with 240 yards per game. QB Tim Tebow continues to lead the team with 578 yards on the ground with 9 rushing touchdowns. However, running backs Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey will be the speedy runners who will have the opportunity to make big plays. The running backs will have plenty of chances to make big plays and they will need to as the Gamecocks secondary is pretty talented.
Tebow throwing the football has only thrown for 1,531 yards on the season, but Florida has not had to throw the ball very often due to their running success. Still, Tebow has thrown 11 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. Expect the Gators to run the ball very often with success, but then take a few shots down field to finish some drives. It is important that Florida gets out front early and does not allow the South Carolina young defense to gain confidence. If that happens, there should not be much worry for Gators fans. However if the South Carolina offense can score some touchdowns and jump out to an early lead, it may be a closer game than expected.
Jay’s Pick – The Florida running game is too strong. Even though the GameCocks have a great D, the Gators are just too much.