The Florida Gators, now ranked ninth in the country, will take on South Carolina for their eighth game of the season after starting 6-1. South Carolina is 3-3 so far and unranked but should have a lot of momentum after taking down then-No. 3 Georgia in double overtime last week.
The Gators are coming off a tough 42-28 loss to No. 5 LSU after beating then-No. 7 Auburn the previous week. Florida’s loss to LSU was its first of the season, as it has held its own and shut down some solid teams this year.
The Gators’ starting quarterback is junior Kyle Trask. Trask is still recovering from a sprained knee, but all indicators are that things are going smoothly. Trask has thrown for 1,191 yards, 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions since taking over the starting job from Feleipe Franks, who was lost for the season to an injury in the Gators’ third game of the year.
At running back, Lamical Perine has been getting the job done with 86 carries for 392 yards and four touchdowns. The senior has averaged 4.6 yards per carry, which should allow the Gators to keep possession and control the tempo of the game.
Florida is currently posting 31.7 points per game along with 288.3 passing yards and 140.7 rushing yards. On defense, the Gators are only allowing 14.1 points per game, 199 yards through the air, and 110.9 yards on the ground.
The Gamecocks are just 3-3 this season, but a huge win in a thriller against Georgia last week should have them ready to square up with anyone. Florida’s No. 9 ranking should not scare South Carolina this week, as their win last week brought the spread in this one to just five points in favor of Florida.
Equipped with home-field advantage and momentum, the Gamecocks will follow their freshman quarterback, Ryan Hilinski, into battle. The 6-3 signal-caller has tossed six touchdowns and three interceptions this year along with 1,028 yards. He is averaging 216 yards per game, right on pace with what Florida has allowed, though the question is how well is he after he left the Georgia win with a knee injury.
Hilinski’s primary target this season has been senior Bryan Edwards. Edwards has brought in 33 receptions so far this year for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Look for the South Carolina native to step up and have a solid game against a tough Florida defense if the Gamecocks want to keep this one close.
Senior Rico Dowdle will be getting the bulk of the carries for the Gamecocks this week, as he leads the team with 77 attempts for 449 yards and four touchdowns. He has an impressive yards-per-carry average as well of 5.8, which could lead to both teams battling to control the tempo of this game.
While they may be outmatched on paper in this game, the Gamecocks have shown that they can hang with tough teams and shut down top-tier quarterbacks. This could turn into a defensive battle where a couple of third-and-short conversions decide the game.
What To Expect
I would expect to see both teams try to establish the run game early to keep the opposing offense off the field as much as possible. South Carolina will be trying to keep it close to sneak away with a win at the end, while Florida will want to avoid mistakes and control the game to keep from being the second straight team upset by the Gamecocks.
I believe the Gators will be able to control the game, for the most part, and expect their defense to give South Carolina’s freshman quarterback trouble and force him into mistakes. I have Florida winning start to finish by more than five with its defense suffocating the South Carolina offense.