The last time South Carolina visited The Swamp, Jake Bentley was undefeated as a college quarterback.
Bentley took over the Gamecocks starting job midway through that 2016 season and opened his career with home wins against UMass, Tennessee and Missouri. Then he took South Carolina to play Florida on the road in what would start the Gamecocks current eight-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
“Last time, me, all of us were so young,” Bentley said. “We got down by 10 or 14, and you would have thought we were down by 50. I remember that vividly. No one had a positive attitude. We were so young that we got down on ourselves. That’s the biggest thing I remember is thinking about how much we’ve matured since then.”
On Saturday, the Gamecocks (5-3 overall, 4-3 SEC) hope that maturity turns into a victory against the No. 19 Gators (6-3, 4-3).
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“We’re an older team,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We have more experience on our football team. You want to continue to move the program forward, you’ve got to win tough road games, and this will be a tough road game.”
Bentley’s experience in particular should help the Gamecocks. He is 37-of-62 for 462 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions in two games against Florida. His last game in The Swamp, he was sacked five times, and South Carolina punted seven times before it scored its first, and only, points of the game in a 20-7 loss.
“It’s definitely one of the most difficult places to play,” Bentley said. “Growing up you always see that stadium, and I always wanted to play there. Getting to play there has been really cool for me. It’s really loud though. It definitely is going to be a great atmosphere there.”
South Carolina is 2-14 all-time in Gainesville, Fla., with those wins coming in 2010 and 2014.
“The Swamp is up there. It’s probably top three (toughest places to play), Texas A&M, The Swamp and probably Clemson,” junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards said. “Those places get real rowdy, so you have to come focused and prepared.”