With the oddsmakers having South Carolina as a 2.5 point favorite over the Dogs, we’re probably looking at “another knockdown dragout in Columbia,” as Mark Richt put it.
In my preseason prediction, I pegged this as a game Georgia likely would lose. But considering how these two teams usually take it down to the wire, I would not be at all surprised to see the Bulldogs eke out another one.
If that happens, these are likely to be five keys to a Georgia win:
1. Running the ball successfully. Not only will this take some of the pressure off Aaron Murray and perhaps keep him from getting too adventurous, it will keep Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffrey and Ace Sanders on the sideline.
2. Pressuring Garcia. The Gamecocks’ offensive line was suspect last year, surrendering a lot of sacks. They looked better last week and Garcia was allowed to stay in the pocket a lot of the time, but that was against Southern Miss. If Justin Houston and company can get into Garcia’s head early, the light might start to flicker again.
3. A.J. Green. Assuming the alleged jersey-selling affair is concluded by the NCAA this week and he gets to play in Columbia, just the mere presence of Green on the field will keep Ellis Johnson from being able to flood the box continually in an attempt to stifle the run and force Murray to make plays. Plus, of course, Green is likely to make a few plays himself.
4. Turnover ratio. The winner of this stat usually has the upper hand in any game, but in a Georgia-South Carolina game it’s often the deciding factor.
5. The kicking game. I have a feeling this game is likely to come down to a clutch field goal late in the fourth quarter. And if that’s the case, having Blair Walsh on Georgia’s sideline is a good feeling.
What else do you think needs to happen for Richt to go 5-0 in Columbia?
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