No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date and Time: Saturday September 13th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, SC
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UGA -6/USC +6
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The race for the SEC East will have an unprecedented leader after this Saturday’s matchup between the no. 6 Georgia Bulldogs and the no. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks. After starting the season ranked 9th in the polls, the Gamecocks were embarrassed in their season opener at home by Texas A&M in a 52-28 route. The loss snapped an 18 game home winning streak and shed light on some serious defensive concerns for Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. However even with the early season loss, the Gamecocks could seemingly take control of the SEC East if they can upset the visiting Bulldogs this Saturday inside Williams-Brice Stadium.
Georgia displayed a lot of fire power in their opener by blasting no. 16 Clemson 45-21. While the win was impressive, it may be most remembered for officially launched running back Todd Gurley’s Heisman Trophy campaign. Gurley’s explosive 100 yard kickoff return in the 2nd quarter tied the game against Clemson at 21-21. Then Georgia’s junior running back took over on the ground to compile a game total of 198 rushing yards and 3 additional touchdowns. Even with a rather inexperience quarterback at the helm in Hutson Mason and a few defensive concerns, the Bulldogs appeared to be one of the best teams in the country in their 2014 debut. In order to sustain those expectations, the Bulldogs will have to prove their selves once again this week on the road in Columbia where they have not won since 2008.
In fact, in the Bulldogs last trip to Columbia they were in a very similar situation. Georgia entered the game ranked 5th in the country with SEC and National Championship type hopes. With ESPN GameDay on hand, the Bulldogs were embarrassed 35-7 by the Gamecocks. While that game has been forgotten by most, that game is still very much on the minds of Georgia fans, players, and head coach Mark Richt. South Carolina has got the best of Georgia in the last 3 out of 4 years in this highly heated rivalry war. If the Bulldogs are going to remain in the driver seat in the SEC East, they cannot afford any more blunders against the Ole Ball Coach this Saturday.
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However, the Gamecocks have not shown they are ready to knock off a big time opponent thus far in 2014. After the big loss to Texas A&M, the Gamecocks’ defense struggled again last week against East Carolina. East Carolina racked up 453 total yards and gave South Carolina all they could handle for the majority of the game. The South Carolina defense is very young in their secondary and they have not proven they can stop the pass. Georgia is not the most dynamic passing team and the true strength of their passing attack is a bit unknown with Mason behind center. The key for the Gamecocks defense will be stopping Todd Gurley up in the running game. If Gurley gets going, the Gamecocks defense will not be able to defend the pass if they have to add guys in the box. Therefore the Gamecocks defensive line must set the tone for the defense to slow Georgia’s potent offense.
Offensively, South Carolina is pretty solid. The receivers are fast and talented. Running back Mike Davis is among the best rushers in the SEC. After a nagging rib injury in the opener, Davis rebounded last week to carry the ball 18 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. As long as quarterback Dylan Thompson keeps from turning the ball over, the Gamecocks should be able to move the football fairly well against the Bulldogs defense with a balanced attack. The offense has been forced to throw the ball much more often this year as they have trailed early in each of their first two games. It will be interesting to see how much South Carolina leans on running back Mike Davis this Saturday as they try to keep the ball away from the Bulldogs offense. If the Gamecocks can keep the chains moving on the ground, they will have the opportunity to win the football game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Typically South Carolina and Georgia games are decided by just a few points. The long history between these two teams has been highlighted mostly by extremely close football games. However at this point in the season, South Carolina’s defense is too young to slow Georgia down. Take the Bulldogs -6