Will Muschamp recaps ‘gutsy’ win over Ole Miss
South Carolina (5-3, 4-3 SEC) at Florida (6-3, 4-3)
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
1. Will Muschamp’s old team stands in the way of South Carolina becoming bowl eligible for a third consecutive season. It wasn’t long ago when Florida was destined to be a definitive favorite in this game. The Gators were 6-1 and ranked among the nation’s top 10 in mid-October before stumbling to consecutive defeats against Georgia and Missouri by a combined score of 74-34.
2. USC is 2-2 over its last four visits to The Swamp, including a 20-7 loss in 2016. Saturday’s task isn’t overly daunting — Florida is just 3-2 at home this season — but can the Gamecocks pull it off short-handed? Carolina’s thrilling win over Ole Miss came at a cost as several regulars went down with injuries.
3. South Carolina vs. Dan Mullen happens for a fourth time, but first time featuring Mullen in orange and blue. As Mississippi State’s coach from 2009-17, Mullen went 1-2 against the Gamecocks, including a 27-14 win in Starkville in 2016 that served as Muschamp’s second game in charge of USC.
Three Florida players to watch
1. Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks heard boos from the UF faithful before he was replaced against Missouri. The sophomore, who completed just 10 passes in last year’s loss to USC in Columbia, isn’t certain to appear against the Gamecocks again. Kyle Trask, a redshirt sophomore, went 10 of 18 for 126 yards with a touchdown late in the Missouri loss. “We’ll see how they perform this week,” Mullen said of the QB situation. “If there’s a drastic change, we’ll make a change. If not, we’ll play with who’s going to give us the best chance to win.”
2. Florida defensive end Jachai Polite is fourth in the SEC with seven sacks. He’s a Bednarik Award semifinalist who’s forced four fumbles this season, most among FBS defensive linemen. South Carolina, as a team, has only forced two fumbles this season.
3. The Gator defensive front is a handful. Not lost in Polite’s shadow is Jabari Zuniga. The 6-foot-4, 257-pound end is 11th in the SEC in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (nine).