Matchups - UF/SC

Florida travels to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks and Lou Holtz. With a victory the Gators can claim a share of the SEC Eastern division title. It would also be their first five game winning streak in the Ron Zook Era.

Matchup Breakdown:




Florida's Running Game vs South Carolina's Front Seven:
The Gators are coming off their best SEC performance on the ground a week ago versus Vanderbilt (194 yards).  The Gamecocks are giving up 150.4 yards per game which is eight in the SEC and just got gauged for 248 against Arkansas.  The defensive tackles are not very talented in Darrell Shrophsire and Freddie Saint Preux.  Shropshire is a Junior College prospect who's getting better.  The defensive ends are solid guys who are much bigger than anyone on UF's schedule except for LSU.  Moe Thompson is a force with  nine tackles for loss and five sacks.  The linebacking corp is struggling against the run and is led by Jeremiah Garrison who has 85 tackles.  Florida is averaging 35 rushing attempts per game this season and will need at least that many to put away the Gamecocks.  The three headed tailback spot will look to get to 175 yards as the magical number for the week.
  South Carolina's Running Game vs Florida's Front Seven:
The Gamecocks will be without freshman phenom Demetrius Summers but they still can line up and run the football with some effectiveness.  South Carolina averages 158 yards rushing per game and will look to Daccus Turman and freshman Cory Boyd to pick up the slack.  The Gamecocks had 218 yards rushing on Vanderbilt but 0 yards against LSU.  The offensive line is led by All-American candidate left tackle Travell Wharton.  Florida will look to get it's safety's involved in the run defense again but need a solid performance from Reid Fleming.  When USC goes to the shotgun one back they will run 50% of the time and Channing Crowder will be a key versus the spread run attack.
Florida's Passing Game vs South Carolina's Secondary:
The Gators and Chris Leak regressed in the 2nd half last week going 2-8 for 22 yards and two interceptions.  The Gamecocks are solid in the secondary ranking 26th in the nation in pass defense. They are led by cover man Dunta Robinson who has nine pass breakups.  Deandre Eiland is more likely to be beaten deep in the Gamecock secondary. South Carolina has eight interceptions but has relinquished 18 touchdown passes.  This is a game that the passing game will revolve around Ben Troupe.  He may get seven receptions this weekend.  Also look for Dallas Baker to make one big catch in this game.
South Carolina's Passing Game vs Florida's Secondary:
Florida will have the edge right now against anyone in the country because they have 19 interceptions.  The key will be to not give up the big play against South Carolina.  Keiwan Ratliff and Johnny Lamar, who have both played the run very well, must stay in coverage against quarterback Dondrial Pinkins.   He hit a 99-yard touchdown pass against Virginia and a 98-yard touchdown pass against Ole Miss.  Pinkins has nine touchdown passes but is 12th in the conference in passing efficiency.  Wide receiver Troy Williamson is a legitimate deep threat, who as a sophomore has 33 receptions for 452 yards.  South Carolina will get in a lot of three receiver sets and will look to throw it short and over the middle of the field.  Against Arkansas, Pinkins completed 21 passes but for only 181 yards.  Florida will look to get pressure on the Gamecock quarterback in long yardage situations and the defense has recorded a sack in every game this season.
Special Teams:
South Carolina is ranked ahead of UF in net punting and 25th in the country.  This will be a big challenge for Ratliff in the return game this week.  Joey Bowers is only averaging 40.7 yards per punt but took over the punting chores mid-season.  Ratliff, who is 2nd in the conference at 11.5 yards per return, is due to break one for a touchdown.  Eric Wilbur's average goes up every week and is now at 45 yards per punt, which is 8th best in the nation.  South Carolina is not very good in the return game and this has put them in bad field position all season long.  Daniel Weaver is a serviceable kicker only attempting 11 field goals all season hitting seven.
The Gators had their "let down" game a week ago in the 35-17 win over Vanderbilt.  UF has a lot to play for Saturday in Columbia.  A 6-2 conference record would be a tremendous accomplishment after beginning 1-2 in the SEC.  It would also be the third consecutive 6-2 record in the SEC.  In the last five years, Florida has had at least two losses in the SEC four times.  South Carolina has the master one game motivator in Lou Holtz on the sideline.  I believe he will have them ready to play and jacked out of their minds.  One thing going for Florida is that it is not a night game in which they would sit around in the hotel all day and lose focus.  That being noted, UF's conference losses this season have been at noon (Tennessee) and 12:30 (Ole Miss).

How will it play out:
The start will once again be a key to the football game for Florida.  South Carolina is searching for confidence and if they are in the game or leading at half-time it could get real interesting  .I think the Gators will try to run the football some on South Carolina and use Ben Troupe a lot in this game.  The defense must be ready for some trickeration from Lou Holtz, especially in run down sequences.  Florida has not taken the next step as far as blowing solid teams out on the road.  They have however played real well on the road under Ron Zook.  I think this will be a close game that is decided in the fourth quarter.   Look for the defense to make one more play in a narrow Gator victory.

MY PREDICTION: Florida 27-23.

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