South Carolina offense vs. Georgia defense
It is almost a given fact that South Carolina will put a great deal of their game plan on the shoulders of Marcus Lattimore. The problem for Georgia is that Lattimore is so versatile, the Gamecocks could use him more as a receiver, like they did against Missouri, or use him to ground and pound a little, like they did against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Gamecocks know that Georgia will be keying on Lattimore early, so expect Steve Spurrier go against the grain a little and allow Connor Shaw to do what he does best early. Shaw has been extremely accurate this season underneath, and Georgia has shown some vulnerability in the quick to intermediate passing game. If South Carolina can get this established, you can expect them to work Lattimore into the game plan more and more as the game goes along and try to ride the star running back in the fourth quarter. If they aren't able to move the chains with the short passing game, expect South Carolina to make it the Shaw and Lattimore show on the ground.
South Carolina defense vs. Georgia offense
It is no mystery that it starts up front with South Carolina, and it has the ability to stop any team on any night with their talent. Expect South Carolina to play their game and rely on their front seven to stop the run. This is the best defense Georgia has faced this year, and South Carolina believes that it can slow down the Bulldogs' rushing attack without walking the extra man into the box. If it works, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward can get more complex with his coverages and try to force Georgia into some mistakes. If Georgia has success against the seven-man box, then South Carolina will be forced to walk another man into the box to play the run. If the Gamecocks do have to use the extra man to stop the run, expect more blitzes from Ward as the Gamecocks will need to limit Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's time to throw the football down field because they will be forced to use a lot of man coverage.
Georgia defense vs. South Carolina offense
This gameplan should be somewhat simple of Georgia. Expect the Bulldogs to walk strong safety Shawn Williams up and into the box early and often. This does two things for the Georgia defense. It allows them to play man coverage and get Williams matched up on the tight end. It also allows them to play the run from both Shaw and Lattimore. The key to doing this will be Georgia's cornerbacks on South Carolina's small, fast receivers. Free safety Bacarri Rambo will be providing help over the top, but the UGA cornerbacks will have to be physical at the line of scrimmage and do a great job of tackling if the the ball is caught. Georgia could mix it up out of this look with some zone looks like cover 3 and "quarters" coverage, but man coverage is also a good idea because it helps take away the Gamecocks' screen game as well. If they are successful with this aggressive man coverage look, expect them to start mixing it up as South Carolina evolves to beat it. If South Carolina has enough success to get them out of it, expect Georgia to get more aggressive and try and force the issue with the South Carolina offense.
Georgia offense vs. South Carolina defense
The Georgia offense has been one of the most successful in the country this season, and despite the fact that its is playing the best defense they have faced this season, the Bulldogs shouldn't have trouble moving the football. Expect Georgia to try and establish the running game early. This will slow down the South Carolina pass rush, and keep their linebackers from getting to their drops in the middle of the field. If Georgia has success establishing the run early, it could have a great deal of success as they will be able to turn to play action passes and work mostly out of two back sets to protect for Murray. If not, Georgia will probably elect to go with four wide receiver sets and work on the South Carolina secondary that hasn't been tested much this season. Expect a lot of success moving the football from Georgia on Saturday, and touchdowns in the red zone will be key.
Neither team has seen a team that is better than the other this season. The key for South Carolina is to get their receivers involved early and often to put Spurrier in a position where he can give Lattimore 15 to 20 carries in the second half. The key for Georgia is to protect Murray and establish the run. South Carolina has the better defense and Georgia has the better offense. South Carolina's proverbial left hand is their offense, and Georgia's is their defense. If either team is forced to play with their left hand, Georgia has the advantage and should win the game. The difference, however, is South Carolina's ability to get pressure and force mistakes. The Gamecocks have 22 sacks before the halfway point this season, and odds are they will have chances to pressure the quarterback in this one. If Murray and the Georgia offense can play turnover free football, they should win. In big games, however, they have yet to show they can, and Georgia can't beat South Carolina by making mistakes. Expect a tie game until very late where South Carolina will punch one in to take the lead. Georgia will have a chance to respond, and come up just short. Final Score: South Carolina 27 Georgia 20
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