The 8-0 Georgia Bulldogs return to Athens to host the 6-2 South Carolina Gamecocks off a convincing 42-7 win over Florida in Jacksonville. Georgia will be looking to go 9-0 for the seventh time in school history and the first time since 1982. Georgia’s win over Florida coupled with Penn State’s loss to Ohio State has the Bulldogs at #2 in both the AP and Coaches polls. Georgia is ranked #1 in the initial College Football Playoff (“CFP”) rankings released on Tuesday. This week’s top 4 in the CFP are: #1 Georgia #2 Alabama #3 Notre Dame and #4 Clemson.
The Bulldogs own a 49-18-2 edge in the series with South Carolina dating back to their first matchup in 1894. Georgia has won the last two in a row and three out of the last four, including last year’s matchup on a Sunday in Columbia, SC after inclement weather pushed the game from its scheduled Saturday date. Georgia won 52-20 in the Gamecocks last visit Between the Hedges. Saturday’s game with South Carolina will mark the second-latest date in the history of the series that the two have faced off as this game has traditionally been played early in season.
Georgia enters the game ranked 2nd in the league in Scoring Offense (38.1 points per game) while the Gamecocks are 10th (26.2 points per game). The Bulldogs are outscoring their opponents 90-17 in the first quarter and 106-3 in the third quarter. In Scoring Defense, the Bulldogs are 2nd in the SEC (11.9 points per game) while the Gamecocks rank 6th in the league (20.2 points per game).
Georgia enters the game with one of the most efficient red zone offenses being only one of three teams to have scored on each trip inside the red zone (31-for-31 with 22 TDs and 9 FGs). South Carolina has scored on 82% of its trips to the red zone (18-for-22 with 11 TDs and 9 FGs). In red zone defense, Georgia is 2nd in the league at 73% (11-for-15) while the Gamecocks are 4th at 79% (23-for-29).
The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, SC and has an enrollment of approximately 34,000 students. The Gamecocks are coached by 2nd year head coach Will Muschamp (12-9). As many of you know Will Muschamp is a part of the Bulldog family and played safety for the Bulldogs from 1991-1994 after walking on the team. Muschamp was teammates with Kirby Smart and the two remain close friends.
South Carolina gets 16 starters back from a team that went 6-7 and lost against South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl. Muschamp emphasized toughness during spring practice, insisting that he coached a soft team in 2016.
The Gamecocks’ offense is led by sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley. Bentley enters the game completing 61% of the his passes and a 13/4 TD/Int ratio. Bentley showed his versatility in his last outing against Vanderbilt with 47 yard rushing and 2 rushing TDs. Bentley is joined in the backfield by a three-headed monster at running back (Ty’Son Williams, Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner) with each of these backs receiving significant carries. While the primary receiving target for the Gamecocks is the 6’3” sophomore Bryan Edwards, Bentley has distributed his 13 TD passes amongst 7 Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks’ defense is led by senior linebacker Skai Moore. Skai redshirted in 2016 while rehabbing a herniated disk after leading the Gamecocks in tackles in 2013-2015.
Currently, Vegas has the Bulldogs as a 23.5 point favorite with a total of 45 for the game. Kickoff time is scheduled for 3:39 PM from Sanford Stadium and the game can be seen CBS.