Alabama vs. South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. EDT, Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C., CBS-TV:
Well, well, well. It's Young Shula vs. The Ole Ball Coach!
I think this game has a lot more meaning and consequences then people think. Either Mike Shula will show he belongs or Spurrier will expose him and coach circles around him! If South Carolina wins, and particularly if it is convincingly, I think the panic from Tide fans will set in immediately. Alabama fans feel they belong in the national spotlight with the tradition of this program. If they lose on national television, again, that will be a bad sign. First road game or not, they have to win this game. The season won't be lost if they lose but the negativity on Coach Shula will be at an all-time high, if they do.
I think Mike Shula is a good coach and an outstanding recruiter. This wouldn't be a "signature win" for him but it is a "statement game" for this program and there's a difference. It's a game that this program desperately needs.
I love Steve Spurrier! I think he's a fantastic college football coach and he'll lead South Carolina to a SEC Championship within a few years. However, he just doesn't have the difference-maker players yet.
Alabama's defense is even better than what SC Quarterback Blake Mitchell saw last week against Georgia, even though I still think Georgia is the best team in the conference. Alabama hasn't caused many turnovers yet this season, but that changes on Saturday. I think Bama scores a defensive touchdown, a special teams touchdown and two offensive touchdowns. This probably won't be the week we see Alabama's old potent running game though.
UA's passing game will be successful against a very good secondary. Look for Nick Walker to break out and expose SC's linebackers over the middle. That will leave opportunities for the wideouts over the top. Don't be surprised to see more of the short passing game to help protect Brodie Croyle, despite what the coaches have told us.
If the game goes like I think, it will really get Crimson Tide fans excited. Darn right it will…and it should!
Vince's Prediction = Alabama 31 South Carolina 13
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I've had a hard time getting a feel for this game. South Carolina is still a mystery and I think they will be all season long. Are they as good as they played most of the game last Saturday or will they're overall marginal talent level eventually catch up with them, no matter who the coach might be? As far as Alabama goes, the key to this game will be the same as it will be all conference season long. Alabama can play with any team in this conference, but they have very little margin for error. Bama MUST establish the run early in game. Special teams doesn't have to be great, just more solid. But before we jump all over the Bama kickers, let's remember that South Carolina has had their difficulties this year as well. Their missed extra point against Georgia was the difference in that ball game. Bama's defense will have to deal with an efficient Spurrier offense and the secondary will again have to step up, contain, and avoid the big play. I don't expect to see South Carolina score much on the Tide's defense, and Bama will be able to get enough to get by.
Alabama 21 South Carolina 10
Tom Canterbury, Producer
Sports Radio 1420 The Tusk in Tuscaloosa
South Carolina impressed me last weekend because of their defense and I think it'll give the still-inexperienced Alabama offensive line fits Saturday afternoon. Alabama obviously needs to cut down on the mental errors that almost cost them the Southern Miss game. I like Alabama's defense a lot but I just think Spurrier has something up his sleave that Mike Shula won't have an answer for and I think the Gamecocks pull off a mild upset by winning at home. If this game were in Tuscaloosa, I'd lean towards Bama but it's tough to win on the road in the SEC.
South Carolina 24 Alabama 21
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