South Carolina and Georgia meet Saturday for the 10th time as ranked teams. The game will be televised by CBS at 3:30 p.m.
The Gamecocks have won six of the previous nine such matchups, but they’ll need a big upset this week to continue that trend. The No. 3 Bulldogs (1-0) are 10-point favorites against the No. 24 Gamecocks (1-0). Here are the five storylines that will go the farthest toward determining who wins this matchup:
Georgia’s offensive line
The Bulldogs offensive line averages 328 pounds per man, which is going to present a challenge for South Carolina’s inexperienced defensive line. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp acknowledged this week that this matchup was causing him concern and he was trying to “muddle through” a solution. The most likely scenario is that Muschamp does everything he can to utilize the Gamecocks’ defensive speed, particularly in the form of Buck end Bryson Allen-Williams, who weighs only 230 pounds but might have the quickness to give Georgia problems. Look for Allen-Williams to line up all across the front.
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South Carolina run game
In the last two seasons, South Carolina has been outrushed by Georgia 568 yards to 73 yards. Obviously, the Gamecocks have to close that gap. Their offense can help by getting to triple digits in rushing as a team, which its done only nine times in Muschamp’s 16 SEC games so far. South Carolina installed a new up-tempo offense in large part to help its running game against powerful defenses like the Bulldogs have. The Gamecocks believe their pace can get them some easy yards as Georgia defenders hurry to get lined up.
Deebo vs. Deandre
A one-on-one matchup between two projected first-round NFL draft picks is enough to get 10 NFL scouts into the stadium on Saturday. South Carolina senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel created a bit of a social media stir this week when he said, “Who?” when asked about Deandre Baker, Georgia’s senior cornerback. In real time, the comment didn’t feel like a diss, just a player more familiar with an opponent’s No. 18 than his name. However, it’s likely that Baker is eager to make him remember the name after Saturday.
To Muschamp’s chagrin, South Carolina forced only one turnover (a Rosendo Louis fumble recovery) against Coastal Carolina last week. The Gamecocks probably need to do better against the Bulldogs. A 10-point underdog needs the ball to bounce its way a few times. In the last two years, South Carolina is minus-3 in the turnover battle in this game with five giveaways to the Bulldogs’ two.
Home sweet home
The Gamecocks home venue is sold out and figures to have its wildest atmosphere since the 2015 Georgia game when No. 24 South Carolina upset No. 6 Georgia 38-35, converting a late fourth down to seal the victory. The game will be played in the SEC’s marquee spot — 3:30 on CBS. None of Georgia’s players have seen Williams-Brice Stadium close to its best, because the Bulldogs’ last trip to Columbia, S.C., came for a delayed game played on a Sunday that was played before a half-empty stadium.