The #10 Florida Gators (8-1, 6-1) will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-6, 1-6) in a SEC East Division matchup Saturday afternoon. The teams have split the last ten meetings with South Carolina picking up a 23-20 overtime win on the road as a 6.5 point underdog in the most recent matchup on November 15, 2014.
Florida won the SEC East title and clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game with an ugly 9-7 win over Vanderbilt at home last Saturday. South Carolina dropped their second straight with a narrow 27-24 road loss to Tennessee last Saturday. This game is scheduled for a 12:00 pm ET from Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina and will be televised on ESPN. Florida is currently a 7.5 point favorite in this contest.
Florida put together a less than inspiring performance but it was enough to get the win and the SEC East crown; they were nowhere near covering the line as they were favored by 21 points. The Gators trailed 7-6 at the half and were still down 7-6 in the fourth quarter before Austin Hardin kicked a 43 yard field goal with 2:22 to play to get the victory. Florida outgained Vanderbilt 258-175 and finished with 12 first downs to Vanderbilt’s 11 in the game. The Gators managed to overcome four turnovers while failing to record a takeaway yet still got the win.
The Gators enter this contest 63rd in the nation in passing offense (229.7 yards per game) and they stand tied for 105th in the nation in rushing with 137.6 yards per contest. Florida is averaging a solid 28.6 points per game this season, which puts them tied for 55th in the nation in scoring offense; the Gators bring the tied for 4th best scoring defense in the nation to the table here as they allow 14.6 points per contest. Will Grier had been the starter at quarterback for a stretch and completed 106 of 161 passes for 1,204 yards with 10 touchdowns and three picks while running for 116 yards and two scores; he was suspended for a year for PEDs. That put Treon Harris (56 of 102, 853 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT, 156 rushing yards) back in the mix at quarterback after being suspended for a game earlier this season for violation of team rules. Kelvin Taylor is the feature back for the Gators with 171 carries for 631 yards and 11 touchdowns; Jordan Scarlett is next in line with 26 carries for 173 yards plus a touchdown. Demarcus Robinson is the team’s leading receiver with 45 catches for 477 yards and two scores; Jake McGee (26 receptions, 223 yards, 3 TD), Brandon Powell (22 grabs, 308 yards, 3 TD) and Antonio Callaway (20 catches, team high 429 yards, 3 TD) are other reliable targets. Three Florida kickers have kicked 29 of 33 extra points and six of 11 field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards.
South Carolina had their chances but coughed up the ball at the Volunteers 13 yard line with 32 seconds to play, negating an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead. The Gamecocks were down 17-0 and rallied to tie the game and then retied the game at 24 before falling. South Carolina was outgained 408-385 despite winning the first down battle 23-19 and holding the ball for 32:21 in the game. The Gamecocks were done in by three turnovers in the game while forcing just one turnover in the loss.
The Gamecocks haven’t done a ton offensively as they are 99th in the nation in passing offense (191.3 yards) and 58th in rushing offense (175.8 yards) per game this season. South Carolina is tied for 108th in the nation in scoring offense as they are scoring 21.7 points per game while ranking tied for 72nd in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 27.3 points per contest. Four quarterbacks have seen action for South Carolina on the year and they’ve struggled; the quartet has completed 53.4 percent of their throws for 1,722 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Perry Orth has seen the most reps under center; he’s hit 89 of 166 passes for 1,180 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Lorenzo Nunez is the team’s second leading rusher despite playing part-time as a quarterback; he has 306 yards and two scores. Shon Carson is part of the rotation in the backfield with 42 carries for 218 yards plus a score; Brandon Wilds (96 carries, team high 507 yards, 2 TD) and David Williams (73 carries, 262 yards) are sharing the load. Pharoh Cooper leads the Gamecocks with 48 receptions for 656 yards and five touchdowns; Jerell Adams (18 catches, 270 yards, 3 TD), Wilds (13 grabs out of the backfield) and Williams (10 catches out of the backfield) are the only other players with more than eight catches on the year. Elliott Fry has booted all 19 extra points and 16 of 23 field goal attempts on the year; he’s 2 of 4 from beyond 50 yards with a long of 52.
South Carolina is 4-1 ATS in their last five on grass, 5-2 ATS in their last seven after a straight up loss, 5-2 ATS in their last seven at home and 5-2 ATS in their last seven in November. Florida is 3-9 ATS in their last 12 after giving up less than 20 points.
This one will be a tight game more than likely: South Carolina covered their last two road losses, at Texas A&M and at Tennessee. Florida was dreadful against Vanderbilt, while they won the game they failed to come close to covering. The Gators should win this game but it might be another tight contest; look for them to win by less than a touchdown.