David Cloninger takes one last look at five storylines surrounding Saturday's game between South Carolina and UCF.
1. WE ARE PENN STATE
It’s great that UCF beat Penn State two weeks ago. That way, there is no way South Carolina overlooks this game as, “Eh, non-conference. Call me when the game is interesting.” Despite Steve Spurrier saying the Gamecocks aren’t good enough to overlook anybody, looking at a stretch of bye-UCF-Kentucky before the season might have had a few players thinking that they were on easy street until October.
2. HIT ’EM
USC’s defense had an outstanding start against Vanderbilt two weeks ago, but the effort was lost in a messy second half. The Gamecocks have to remember what they did to the Commodores and try to channel it into Saturday’s start against the Knights. UCF’s best chance to win is to get its offense in gear early. If USC doesn’t allow it, the Gamecocks can be on cruise control.
3. HIGH FLYING
The Gamecocks’ offense has been stellar all season. It won’t put up 70 points like Baylor or run 90 plays like Clemson, but it will get the job done. Just got to keep doing that. With Connor Shaw playing the best football of his career and Mike Davis an all-conference tailback on the rise, it should.
This is the biggest game at UCF in a while. The Knights have started strong, sold out the stadium, they have national TV, they’re doing a “Gold-Out.” I’m sure it could be intimidating if USC allowed it to be. The way it should be seen, though, is it’s not Bryant-Denny. It’s not the Georgia Dome. It’s not Death Valley (either of them). The Gamecocks are used to big atmospheres, a lot bigger than this.
5. BORTLES AND JD
Blake Bortles, meet Jadeveon Clowney. He was not amused by one media outlet calling him the biggest disappointment in the SEC this season. You two play nice, now.