Overall Record: 46-17-2
Last 10 Meetings: 6-4
Richt vs. South Carolina: 7-5
What everyone is waiting to see now is just how good South Carolina will be without Marcus Lattimore for an entire season. The Bulldogs, in particular, are happy to see him go. But Lattimore isn't Jadeveon Clowney – who is the best player in college football.
Georgia never did figure out Lattimore – it seems even further away from understanding how to defend against Clowney.
In this golden age of South Carolina football – and that's really saying something on a number of levels – Steve Spurrier will never have a better offensive and defensive one-two punch as he's had with Lattimore and Clowney. The Cocks have knocked off Georgia and Tennessee three times in a row, beaten Florida two out of three games and have topped hated Clemson four years in a row.
The bravado coming out of Columbia is reaching an all-time high.
But as good as it has been – and it has been very, very good for the Gamecocks – they've not made the most of their opportunities. That statement can be made about every program in college football (see Georgia coming up a few yards short against Alabama in 2012), but it's particularly true for Carolina.
They have beaten Georgia three years in a row, but only won the SEC East once in those three years. The win over Georgia last year was one for the ages… South Carolina followed that up with two losses in a row – one a nasty beating by Florida. They arrived at the SEC Championship Game against Cam Newton and his Auburn Tigers only to lose by the worst margin in the game's history. Carolina fans whined about Georgia's SEC schedule – even some officials at the school saying victories over the SEC West should only count as half games in the standings.
Apparently, math is only a priority when it's in your favor.
Still, how long will Tennessee be bad? Not forever. The Vols' slip downward (at the hands of South Carolina and the rest of the SEC East, it should be noted) was just as the Cocks moved up.
South Carolina won its only SEC East title in 2010 when Georgia, Florida and the Vols combined for 19 losses – bad.
Soak it up and celebrate while you can, because nothing last forever in college football… except cheating.
South Carolina player to watch:
Most experts consider Clowney the best player in college football, and he's backed up that reputation the way he's played against Georgia. In 2011, Clowney had two tackles and two sacks, one of which forced a game-determining fumble in the waning stages. Last year, he had four tackles and one of the six South Carolina sacks in its dominating 35-7 win in Columbia.
At 6-6 and 272 pounds, Clowney is one of the most athletic defensive ends in the country. And though Georgia returns all starting and reserve offensive linemen from 2012, containing rather than stopping Clowney is a more realistic goal –– he had a sack in eight of 11 regular season games a year ago – including four against Clemson.
Clowney finished sixth in the Heisman voting last year and is already garnering early hype for the Heisman this time. If he were eligible, Clowney likely would've been a top five NFL draft pick.
Georgia's offense against South Carolina will have just as much trouble as its defense against Clemson. The first two games of the year are tough on both sides of the ball.
What the Dawgs must do:
Win. Three wins in a row, the most in South Carolina's history over Georgia, has only earned the Cocks one trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. While the game hasn't prevented Georgia from achieving its goals during the season, one has to wonder how long that sort of luck will last. This is one of the most difficult teams the Bulldogs will play this fall.
Inside the numbers:
The Bulldogs will finish 0-3 against Marcus Lattimore. The Gamecocks' tailback torched Georgia three straight times, averaging 155.7 yards in three meetings, and, not coincidentally, South Carolina is on a three-game winning streak against the Bulldogs. Now the problem will be stopping quarterback Connor Shaw, who scrambled for several of the Gamecocks' 12 rushing first downs last season.
Mild. Georgia has gone away from South Carolina as a recruiting destination of late… probably because the talent over there has been slightly limited the last few years. But the Dawgs have kept some recruits in the Carolinas (Tramel Terry, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley) from playing in Columbia – and that has to matter a little.
Last year's prediction: Stop Lattimore. Georgia will need to keep Lattimore in check. He wasn't the reason South Carolina won last season – turnovers were – but he cemented the Gamecock win.
It was the most lopsided win for the Gamecocks over Georgia in the last two decades, but Lattimore had nothing to do with the outcome. South Carolina jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
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