Following an ugly showing in Jacksonville against Georgia, the Gators will travel to Columbia, SC for a game against Shane Beamer’s Gamecocks.
South Carolina is also 4-4 on the season, but their last two wins came against Vanderbilt (21-30) and Troy (23-14). Even Vegas thinks this game should reach blowout territory as Florida is a 18-point favorite.
The following are our staff’s predictions for the Florida – South Carolina showdown:
For many reasons, this game shouldn’t be close. The talent gap is significant in Florida’s favor, yet I worry about the mental state of this program and their ability to win on the road in Columbia, at night, no less. Dan Mullen didn’t allow his players or assistants to speak to the media to focus on the details following the humiliating loss to Georgia. One thing I’ll be looking for is former Gators DB coach Torian Gray’s secondary at South Carolina. They are opportunistic at creating turnovers led by Jaylan Foster, who leads the NCAA in interceptions (but it was his fault the UF defense was awful last year, right, Dan?). The Gamecocks only allow 177 yards in the air, but struggle in stopping the ground game. Hopefully, Mullen has read the scouting report and we see a big dose of Dameon Pierce, otherwise it could be a long night in South Carolina. Florida, 31-10.
At this rate, this team is incredibly untrustworthy anywhere outside of Gainesville when it comes to winning games. Turnovers are a big reason. Florida’s quarterbacks account for slightly more touchdowns than turnovers through these eight games. Protecting the ball is more important than ever if the Gators want to win these last four regular season games and especially because SCAR is tied for first in the conference with 11 interceptions including three for touchdowns. Plus it’s second in the SEC with six fumble recoveries. Florida still runs the ball at a high clip (242 a game) and South Carolina allows the fourth-most rushing yards at 168 per game. The Gamecocks are also next-to-last in total offense and scoring offense at 328 yards and just under 21 points per game. Not to mention there are questions at QB due to injuries. So, obviously that sets up for a possible career day by the South Carolina offense at night in Columbia. All that said, the Gators win a wild one in the Palmetto State. Florida, 38-35.
This should be a win right? I’ll keep my glass half full even though Mullen shut the team away from any media and seems to be checking out on this season. But if Mullen checks back in Saturday and calls his offense to expectations, like I think he will, then the Florida run game will bulldoze through a weak South Carolina defense. The Gamecocks give up 4.4 yards a carry and 168 yards a game to opposing running backs. UF running back Dameon Pierce was able to burst through the UGA defense for 7.7 yards a carry and it wouldn’t be surprising if he bursts through South Carolina for a few chunk plays. Gators will win but not by a lot. Florida, 31-24.
Florida seems to be bent on giving its fans the most turbulent ride possible this season. On paper, this week’s matchup against South Carolina should, emphasis on should, be a cakewalk for the now 4-4 Gators. Yes, the Gamecocks are also 4-4, but they have only faced one of the two SEC powerhouses in Georgia. And despite a half successful season thus far, the wins are meager at best. For example, the Gamecocks beat Vanderbilt (2-7) by one point… Need I say more? Vision gets blurry when you consider that in its last four games, the Florida defense allowed 78.25 more rushing yards per game than in its first four. Now, South Carolina doesn’t bear a reputation of being “RBU” by any means, but such a downward trend in Florida’s ability to stop the run can’t help but raise an eyebrow. On the other hand, Florida averages more points, 32.3 per game, when it ventures outside the Swamp, compared to 30.2 points playing at home – an unexpected stat given a 1-2 record on the road. Regardless, Florida continues to find a way to stifle its own success, so this one could be closer than Gator fans would like. Florida, 31-24.
Florida and South Carolina will kick off from the Williams – Brice Stadium at 7:30 PM on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network.