One week after taking down no. 3 Georgia, the South Carolina Gamecocks will try to knock off another top-10 team when they host the no. 9 Florida Gators. The game will kick off at noon EST on Saturday, October 19 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. Fans can catch all of the action on ESPN.
Current betting odds list Florida as 6-point road favorites over South Carolina. The over/under for the game is set at 48 points. Click here to check out the full schedule in college football this week and betting odds for every game.
As mentioned, South Carolina is fresh off a massive and potentially season-changing upset over Georgia. After starting the year 1-3, the Gamecocks have won back-to-back SEC games to get to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Perhaps the most amazing part is that South Carolina won the game without quarterback Ryan Hilinski for most of the second half and both overtime periods. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, Hilinski is expected to recover from his sprained knee and play this weekend.
Of course, the work is far from over for Will Muschamp and company. The Gamecocks still need three more wins in their final six games to secure a bowl bid. With games against Florida, Clemson, Texas A&M, and a ranked Appalachian State team, a bowl game is far from guaranteed. Last week’s win over Georgia provided a huge lift, and another win this week would give the Gamecocks another big step toward securing a bowl bid and perhaps being a surprise contender in the SEC East.
Meanwhile, the Gators are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season. Florida put up a good fight on the road against LSU, but couldn’t hold a 28-21 lead, ultimately losing in Death Valley 42-28. One loss isn’t the end of the world for the Gators. But a second loss is likely to take them out of the College Football Playoff conversation and make it difficult for them to win the SEC East.
With their showdown with Georgia on the schedule after next week’s bye, the Gators shouldn’t be looking ahead too much. They also don’t want to spend their week off thinking about back-to-back losses, so they should be able to focus on South Carolina, whose upset over Georgia surely got Florida’s attention.
Finally, as most people know, Muschamp has been on both sides of this rivalry. He coached the Gators from 2011 to 2014 before being hired at South Carolina in 2016. He’s only won one of the three games against his former team while at South Carolina, although that came two years ago when the Gators last visited Columbia. Ironically, he was just 1-3 against South Carolina as the head coach of Florida, making Muschamp 2-5 in this rivalry.
The Gamecocks are good and they’re gritty, but they seem destined for an emotional letdown after last week’s win. Meanwhile, Florida went toe-to-toe on the road with LSU last week for nearly the entire game. They’ll be a little bruised but eager to prove themselves after a loss. Plus, as mentioned, after South Carolina’s upset of Georgia, there’s no chance Florida will take them lightly. That should be enough for the Gators to win by at least a touchdown and cover the spread.
I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with Kyle Trask since taking over as Florida’s starting quarterback. He’s not the best athlete and he doesn’t have the biggest arm, but he’s tough and can put the ball where it needs to be. He’s faced two of the best defenses in the SEC the last two weeks in games against Auburn and LSU and more than held his own. The South Carolina defense isn’t that far from being as good as those teams. But I still trust that Trask will have a good game and do enough to help his team win.
In addition to Trask, I like how the Florida running game has developed over the course of the season. Lamical Perine was huge against Auburn and fought for some tough yards against LSU. The Gators also do a nice job of utilizing backup quarterback Emory Jones as more of a running option. This isn’t the first time Dan Mullen has used two quarterbacks and he’s done a nice job of knowing when to use Jones. Meanwhile, the South Carolina defense has been a little susceptible to the run in recent weeks. They haven’t been gashed for big plays, but opposing teams have established a steady ground game against them.
On the other side of the ball, I have some concerns with Hilinski, especially coming off a sprained knee. He’s played well as a freshman and the South Carolina run game has helped immensely. But in his last four starts, he’s averaging less than six yards per attempt. The Gamecocks are barely averaging 20 points per game against FBS opponents, so there’s a ceiling for how much the South Carolina offense is able to produce. I’m not convinced Hilinski is able to break that ceiling right now.
In the end, I don’t think the Gamecocks will score enough points to stay within a touchdown. I like Trask to make some nice throws while the Florida running game slowly wears down the South Carolina defense. It won’t be easy for the Gamecocks to replicate last week’s win over Georgia, and so I think Florida manages a semi-comfortable win on Saturday.