Informed Sunday that ESPN’s College Gameday crew is coming to Columbia on Saturday for No. 5 Georgia’s game against No. 6 South Carolina, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said that’s just the way he likes it.
The last time that group set up outside Williams-Brice Stadium was on Oct. 9th, 2010, and South Carolina knocked off No. 1-ranked Alabama 35-21.
“We certainly do [like games such as this],” Spurrier said on his weekly teleconference call Sunday. “The last time they were here, obviously that was one of the best days in Carolina football history. It was the first time we had ever beat a No. 1 team. It adds to the importance of the game. It sort of lets the world know and the country know South Carolina football’s pretty good. We’re not quite where we want to be yet, but we’re up there amongst them and hopefully we can keep pushing on.”
The matchup everybody anticipated for Week 6 of the season has materialized. Both the Gamecocks (5-0, 3-0 SEC) and Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0) were consensus preseason picks as the top two teams from the East and they arrive undefeated and ranked among the nation’s best. Both teams negotiated potential trap games this past weekend. South Carolina trailed Kentucky 17-7 in the first half but surged ahead in the second to win 38-17. Georgia wasted several three-score leads to outlast Tennessee 51-44 at Sanford Stadium.
Spurrier said he hasn’t had a chance yet to sit down and study the Bulldogs on video, but he has been impressed by what he has seen on highlight shows.
“I keep seeing a bunch of long runs by those Bulldog freshmen,” said Spurrier, speaking of tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. “That’s probably a good message when you think you lose a top running that has some issues like the kid they had there last year [Isaiah Crowell], maybe the next guys can come in and play as well or better. So the long runs is what I noticed mostly yesterday. And, of course [Aaron] Murray hit a bunch of big passes, too. They were a scoring machine.”
Georgia comes into the game leading the SEC in scoring (48.2 ppg) and total offense (536 ypg). But the Gamecocks, behind quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Marcus Lattimore, have been lighting it up, too. South Carolina averages 36.6 points and 409 yards per game.
The difference might be the Gamecocks’ defense, which is giving up an average of just 11.2 points and 288 yards. That’s second and third in the SEC, respectively.
Conversely, Georgia’s defense has been a bit of a disappointment. The Bulldogs are in the bottom half of the league against the score (22.0 ppg) and in yards allowed (370 pg).
“Well, they’re scoring so fast,” Spurrier said. “You score fast and your defense has to play a lot more. It usually takes us a while to get it down the field and score. Our defense is hopefully only out there 58 to 63 plays, something like that. Georgia’s been scoring so fast and there’s been so many turnovers in their games, the defense is just playing more plays. No, they can make plays all over the place. And even last year we didn’t move the ball that well at all.”
Spurrier is referring to last season’s 45-42 win at Georgia in which the Bulldogs gave up 14 points on a pick-six and a fake punt and another 14 indirectly on offensive turnovers deep in their own territory.
You’d think that all would be warm and fuzzy with the Gamecocks, what with them being in some unchartered waters in program history from a winning standpoint. But Spurrier refused to take questions after the UAB game and a couple of other news conferences due to his differences over what he deemed was negative reporting by the local newspaper, The Columbia State. In particular he seems to be having issues with columnist Ron Morris, who has been known to take him to task from time-to-time.
“Well, it’s only one guy,” Spurrier said Sunday. “I just said I had enough of it. Hopefully we got the problem under control. I guess time will tell.”
Morris wrote a column about their strained relationship this past week.
Stay tuned for much more coverage of the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs this week as we get set for what will certainly be the most anticipated Georgia-South Carolina game in the long and storied history of that series.
COMPLETE COVERAGE OF GEORGIA-TENNESSEE GAME: