SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (1-0)
at GEORGIA BULLDOGS (0-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Line: Georgia -3.5, Total: 56
After a narrow three-point loss at Clemson, No. 11 Georgia continues its difficult start to the season when it hosts another top-10 team, No. 6 South Carolina, on Saturday afternoon.
Though star DE Jadaveon Clowney was relatively quiet in the season opener, his Gamecocks still came away with a 27-10 romp of North Carolina. The favored Bulldogs meanwhile opened their season with a 38-35 loss to the Tigers, who are now ranked fourth in the nation. South Carolina has owned this rivalry recently, going 3-0 SU and ATS in the past three meetings, including a 35-7 crushing last year and a 45-42 win in Athens in 2011. In the past 10 meetings at Sanford Stadium, Georgia is 6-4 SU, but just 4-6 ATS. Since 1992, the Gamecocks are just 8-13 SU in this series, but 12-7-2 ATS (63%), including a 9-2-2 ATS mark (82%) in their past 13 meetings with the Bulldogs. Last year, Georgia went 6-3 ATS against SEC opponents and 8-6 overall ATS for the second consecutive year. South Carolina was also an impressive 8-5 ATS last year (5-3 ATS in the SEC) and is now 30-24 ATS (56%) since 2009.
Can South Carolina pull off the road upset against a hungry Georgia team? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The experts dominated in the opening week of the college football season with a combined 69% ATS mark (11-5), highlighted by Scott's 4-1 ATS record and Brian's 3-1 ATS record with the lone blemish being Hawaii's backdoor cover with a last-minute touchdown versus USC. Dave started off his year 3-2 ATS in Best Bets, while Gary was 1-1 ATS.
Georgia’s loss wasn’t for a lack of offense as sophomore running back Todd Gurley continued to tear his way through the SEC with 154 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns. That included a 75-yard run. Last year he burst onto the scene averaging 6.2 yards per carry for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns, but was bottled up in the blowout loss at South Carolina, gaining just 39 yards on 13 carries. Senior QB Aaron Murray also had a dreadful game in Columbia last year, completing 11-of-31 passes (36%) for 109 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT. However, Murray looked sharp last week, racking up 323 yards in the air on 20-of-29 passing (69%), but didn’t find the end zone and threw one pick. This was despite missing top WR Malcolm Mitchell for the majority of the game after he injured his knee while celebrating the Bulldogs' first touchdown in the first quarter. Mitchell, who led Georgia with 52 receiving yards in last year's loss to the Gamecocks, was diagnosed with a torn ACL and is out for the season. Georgia’s main issues were with its revamped defense though, as it was unable to stop Clemson on the air or on the ground. The Tigers picked up three passing touchdowns on 270 yards and 197 yards on the ground as Tajh Boyd found the end zone a combined five times. The Georgia defense allowed more than 35 points just once all of last season, but lost a bunch of key players to the NFL, and those absences really showed.
South Carolina’s defense was great on all fronts in the opener. The defensive backfield limited North Carolina QB Bryn Renner to just 194 yards on 43 attempts (4.5 YPA) while the front seven kept the Tar Heels to 2.8 yards per carry and no touchdowns. Though the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL draft Clowney had just three tackles, the Gamecocks finished with three sacks for 30 yards while forcing one fumble. On offense, quarterback Connor Shaw was efficient, completing 11-of-20 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. But he was even better in last year's romp of Georgia, throwing for 162 yards and 2 TD on just 10 pass attempts, plus adding another 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground as part of his team's 230 rushing yards. Sophomore WR Shaq Roland showed his big-play ability last week with a 65-yard touchdown catch just 1:19 into the game, and RB Mike Davis kept the unit going all day though with 12 carries for 115 yards (9.6 YPC), including a 75-yard dash to cap the scoring midway through the third quarter. Sophomore RB Brandon Wilds also ran well with 64 yards on 12 carries (5.3 YPC).