Gators look to keep pace in the SEC East when they come to Columbia to face the upset-minded Gamecocks
Even though they are just 3-3, the South Carolina Gamecocks have a lot to feel good about these days. Not only are they on a two-game winning streak, but they also pulled off an upset of one of the best teams in the nation last Saturday. The question is, can the Gamecocks do it again this week at home against the Florida Gators?
South Carolina stunned the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, knocking them from the undefeated ranks with a 20-17 win in double overtime. Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 42-yard field goal that would have sent the game into a third overtime. Instead, the Gamecocks left with a huge victory and now have a chance to earn another against a top-10 opponent, this time at home.
Florida (6-1, 3-1 SEC) suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of the LSU Tigers, falling 42-28 in Baton Rouge last week. The Gators had a lead in the third quarter before the Tigers scored three straight touchdowns.
Florida leads the all-time series over South Carolina 27-9-3. In last year's matchup, the Gators rallied from 17 down to defeat the Gamecocks 35-31 in Gainesville.
Florida at South Carolina
Kickoff: Oct. 19 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Florida -5.5
When Florida Has the Ball
Despite the loss last week, quarterback Kyle Trask had another sensational game against LSU, throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. He and the Gators offense will have their hands full against the Gamecocks defense.
While South Carolina's defense is giving up 403.7 yards per game, they were able to force Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm to throw three interceptions, all to Israel Mukuamu. Florida could decide to take a different approach offensively.
Georgia was able to have success running the football against South Carolina to the tune of 173 yards on the ground. While Florida's rushing offense is among the worse in the SEC (140 yards per game), the Gators will likely try to get running backs Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce involved early in the game.
When South Carolina Has the Ball
Quarterback Ryan Hilinski suffered a left knee injury in the win against Georgia. But head coach Will Muschamp says he expects Hilinski to be ready to play against the Gators on Saturday.
Having Hilinski under center will be a massive boost to the Gamecocks passing game, as he has passed for 1,028 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. If by some chance Hilinski cannot play against Florida, Dakereon Joyner, who came in against Georgia after the injury, will get the start.
Either way, the Gamecocks will look to take advantage of a Gators front seven that will likely be shorthanded. Defensive ends Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard are likely game-time decisions. Without both players last week, the Gators failed to generate any pass rush while allowing the Tigers to rush for 218 yards.
Much like previous Florida-South Carolina games, this will likely be a close one. The Gators have significant injuries on their defensive line, which should allow the Gamecocks to have some success running the football.
On the flip side, Trask and the Florida offense should be able to move the ball against South Carolina, provided they don't turn the ball over. Last weekend's game between South Carolina and Georgia came down to field goals. This weekend's game in Columbia could come down to the same.
Prediction: Florida 23, South Carolina 20
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.