What You’ll Need to Know About Georgia
By Avery Wilks
Almost needless to say, this Saturday’s showdown is the biggest game of the year, not just for #6 South Carolina and #5 Georgia, but possibly for the entire SEC. And yes, this includes Alabama vs. LSU. Both teams have been excellent this year, and head coaches Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier will make sure their teams are hungry coming into Saturday night’s game. With the SEC East on the line in early October, it’s do or die for the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs.
- Georgia comes into the game 5-0, and 3-0 in the SEC.
- The Bulldogs come into the game ranked 8th in the nation in total offense with 48.2 points per game, and 47th in scoring defense, allowing 22 points per game.
- The series record is 16-46-2. And you thought our record against Clemson was bad…
- Injury Report: Michael Bennett, Georgia’s leading receiver, will be out for the season after tearing his ACL in practice Tuesday.
- Georgia has never lost three straight games to South Carolina, which is impressive considering the first game between the two teams dates back to 1894, when the Bulldogs defeated the Gamecocks 40-0.
- This Saturday could be South Carolina’s 11th straight win against SEC East opponents.
- South Carolina will also be attempting to win its 10th straight game overall, dating back to 2011, which would break Carolina’s current record of nine consecutive wins set in 1984.
- A win this week would give South Carolina its first 6-0 start since 1984.
Georgia Recap and Scouting Report
If there’s any South Carolina fans out there that aren’t worried about facing Georgia this Saturday, they should be. The Bulldogs have an incredible football program, and Mark Richt’s 2012 team is as dangerous as ever. Though they struggled for three quarters to put away Missouri earlier in the year, the Bulldogs have been in sync lately, demolishing Vanderbilt two weeks ago and racking up 51 points against Tennessee last week. With both teams hitting their strides at the same time, this one could go either way.
Offensively, the Dawgs are one of the nation’s best. Heisman hopeful quarterback Aaron Murray has led the unit capably, passing for 1,370 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this year while only throwing three interceptions. Of course, Murray hasn’t done it all himself, as Georgia depends heavily on the talent of their two freshmen phenom runningbacks. The one-two punch of SEC leading rusher Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have shredded opposing defenses on the ground this year, rushing for a combined 964 yards and 14 touchdowns. What’s more, they’ve done it in explosive fashion, as Gurley has averaged 7.9 yards per carry and Marshall has averaged a whopping 8.2 yards per carry. Georgia will miss leading receiver Michael Bennett–out with an ACL injury–making Murray’s new favorite target senior Tavarres King, who has steadily improved into a solid receiver since arriving on campus in 2008. If the Georgia offense has a notable weakness, it’s the offensive line. Murray has been sacked seven times this season, and he was pressured constantly in the Dawgs’ victory over Tennessee last week. It will be crucial for Georgia to solve whatever issues remain on the line if they are to contain South Carolina’s excellent defensive line.
Georgia’s defense–on the other hand–isn’t quite as prominent. The Bulldogs have surprisingly struggled to keep teams in check this year, giving up at least 20 point in four of their five games. Despite Georgia’s recent struggles, however, two of the teams best players, linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Baccari Rambo, just returned from their four-game suspensions last week against Tennessee. Both should be up to speed for the game Saturday, as Ogletree racked up 14 tackles and three pass deflections against the Vols and Rambo added nine tackles of his own. The Bulldogs also have a potential Heisman contender in Jarvis Jones, who has wrecked opposing offensive lines all season long. Despite plenty of talent all around, Georgia is undoubtedly most susceptible to the run. They rank 9th in the SEC in rush defense, giving up an average of 147.8 yards per game.
In all, the Bulldogs pose a unique and interesting challenge to the Gamecocks this Saturday. Games like these leave little room for error, so the winner of this one will probably be the team who comes most prepared–body and mind–to Williams Brice Saturday night.