If South Carolina can pull off an upset this week, the complexion of the season will change.
The Gamecocks already are off to a good start. Last week’s 49-15 victory over Coastal Carolina boosted South Carolina into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in four years. Now a much bigger test awaits — No. 3 Georgia, the defending national runner-up and SEC champion and the pick of almost everyone to win the SEC East again this year.
The Bulldogs are 10-point favorites headed into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium, which will be televised by CBS.
There are good reasons the Gamecocks are double-digit underdogs, the most daunting one being the Bulldogs’ mammoth and talented offensive line.
“It’s like a human eclipse on the right side of their line,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said Thursday on his weekly radio show.
Muschamp also recounted a story of teasing the Gamecocks 245-pound defensive end Aaron Sterling about his opponent’s size.
“He said, ‘What’d you recruit me for?’” Muschamp said. “I said, ‘Alright.’ ”
That’s a great response, and exactly the right attitude, for Sterling to have, but it’s going to take more than that Saturday to overcome Georgia’s offense. Behind that offensive line are sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, who is one of the most under-appreciated players in the league according to Muschamp, talented running back D’Andre Swift and a group of talented wideouts, including Cal transfer Demetris Robertson, a former five-star prospect who had a 72-yard touchdown on his only touch last week.
South Carolina needs: a low-mistakes game, a big day from Deebo Samuel and/or Bryan Edwards, a running game that has produced 73 yards in the last two years against the Bulldogs to find its legs, its thin defensive line to stand up to a 60-minute fight against physics and its secondary to hold down Georgia’s perimeter threats.
That’s a lot to ask. Probably too much.
Prediction: Georgia 38, South Carolina 24