I didn’t like this Alabama matchup for USC in the preseason, and I don’t like it any better today.
It might have something to do with being in attendance the last time the Gamecocks played a physical team with a big, strong defense and a bruising rushing attack led by a power back.
If memory serves, that Outback Bowl pairing with Iowa was over before the pre-game bloomin’ onions served in the press box had a chance to start clogging the arteries of the assembled media.
I don’t think Saturday’s game will get away from the Gamecocks like the Outback Bowl. Stephen Garcia is a better quarterback than he was in January – perhaps as much as “tenfold,” which is how much Garcia said the Gamecocks needed to improve from their Kentucky performance to knock the Tide off its roll toward a national championship.
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There is a blueprint for a USC win. Steve Spurrier mentioned getting a special teams score and winning the turnover battle.
But Alabama tailback Mark Ingram protects the ball as though it were a sack of diamonds. The sophomore has not lost a fumble in 278 career touches, including 254 carries.
No wonder Nick Saban likes to give the ball to Ingram like, oh, nine out of 10 plays.
Spurrier said if the Gamecocks can get a lead on ‘Bama and force the Tide to throw, he’ll take his chances with speed-rushers Eric Norwood and Cliff Matthews.
But unless USC’s interior linemen and pint-sized MLB Shaq Wilson do a better job shedding blocks and stuffing the run, ‘Bama QB Greg McElroy figures to be looking at a lot of second-and-3s.
And like a bloomin’ onion at 10:30 in the morning, that can make for a long day.
Alabama 31, USC 17