Florida (7-2) at South Carolina (6-3) 12:30 pm
Why to watch: If only there was some sort of storyline to go with this one. There’s pressure, and then there’s what Florida head coach Urban Meyer has to face dealing with Florida’s favorite son, Steve Spurrier, looking to do the near-impossible and take South Carolina to the number two spot in the SEC East. While Gators fans certainly want to see their team win, the love for the Ball Coach is still so blinding that there’ll be a whole bunch of mixed feelings this Saturday. While the Gamecocks can finish behind Georgia in the SEC East standings with a win (tied with Florida, but winning the tie-breaker), the Gators can represent the East in the SEC Championship game with a win and an Auburn victory over Georgia. LSU-Alabama might be the most intense game of the weekend, but this might be more fun to watch.
Why Florida might win: For all the wins and all the recent success, South Carolina’s offense hasn’t done a whole bunch. It’s only generating 310 yards per game and outside of big numbers put on the board against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Troy, it isn’t scoring a lot. Florida’s defense has had its occasional problems, especially last week against Jay Cutler and Vanderbilt, it’s unbelievable at forcing turnovers taking away 26 so far. The offense has only given it away nine times. In other words, South Carolina will have to create and make its own breaks with its middling offense. While the stats might not look that good on paper …
Why South Carolina might win: … the offense is finding a way to get the job done when it has to. The Gamecock pass defense has been fantastic all season long keeping most efficient passers from getting into any sort of a rhythm. Auburn’s Brandon Cox threw well against the Gamecocks, and Cutler threw for 339, but they each hit a few rough patches. The real focus will be on offense, where USC has to take advantage of every opportunity and every long drive. Alabama’s offense is having major problems, but it scored 31 on the Gators. Vandy put 42 on the board last week. If the Commodores were able to come up with 419 yards of total offense, South Carolina should be able to move the ball a little bit, especially since …
Who to watch: … the Gator secondary is going through a few changes after the loss of CB Vernell Brown to a broken leg. Reggie Lewis stepped in and came up with the game-sealing interception in overtime against Vanderbilt, but he struggled all game long under the pressure on the outside. His problems are forcing the coaching staff to move top safety Reggie Nelson from free to a nickel back giving him even more range, while Kyle Jackson will take back his spot at free safety held earlier this year. With the safeties sure to spend more time helping out the corners than worrying about the run, can Mike Davis and the USC running game be effective? He ran for 61 yards against Tennessee and 89 against Arkansas. He doesn’t have to go for 100, but a solid 75 yards would help.
What will happen: Florida’s defense will rise up and take control of the game early, but the offense won’t come through. Meyer might want this one even more than Spurrier, but he won’t get it as Josh Brown will hit four field goals including one in the final minute for the win.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 19 … Florida 17