Staff Predictions: Alabama

The staff predicts the score of the Alabama game. Look inside! Staff Predictions: Alabama
Paul Stewart - Staff Writer
After facing perhaps their biggest road game in the Spurrier era against Auburn two weeks ago, the Gamecocks now return to Williams-Brice to face perhaps their biggest home game under the Head Ball Coach. USC was extremely close to picking up the win against the Tigers, and will look to erase the late turnovers and put together a complete effort to beat the Tide.

Everyone knows what Alabama wants to do and how good they are at doing that. They will run the ball and test the Carolina front four early and often, while hoping to open up some passing lanes later in the game. To go along with that, Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will try to continue their defensive domination and shut down Stephen Garcia through the air and Marcus Lattimore on the ground.

I think South Carolina can hang around in this game, just like they did against Auburn. If they do, and the turnovers go their way this time, I could see them squeaking it out in the end. After watching Florida struggle last weekend, I truly believe South Carolina is the best team that Alabama has played this year, and it will be a huge test for them.

Look for Lattimore to punch one in late to give South Carolina the biggest win in program history.

South Carolina - 21
Alabama - 20
Jason Ross - Football/Recruiting Analyst
The Gamecocks definitely have an opportunity on Saturday against the Alabama Crimson Tide to post a win on a national stage that would be a landmark moment in the history of Gamecock football. Make no mistake about it, Nick Saban will have his guys ready to play come game time and will be an extremely difficult challenge for the Gamecocks. However, I do think there are a few things heading into this game that could prove to be in South Carolina's favor.

The first thing is that the Gamecocks are playing at home where they have an impressive record of late and a home crowd presence that really makes it tough on opposing teams. Secondly, the Gamecocks know they can play with Alabama. They gave the Tide all they wanted last year, and if not for a few miscues, had a legitimate chance of knocking off the eventual national champs in their house. Third, the Gamecocks have an extra piece as a part of their running game this year named Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore's ability to gain tough yardage, catch the ball out of the backfield, and to physically wear down another team is going to give South Carolina a chance to be more multiple on offense this year against the Tide.

The bottom line is Alabama is going to have to respect the South Carolina running game, something they really didn't have to do last year. Fourth, the weakest link of the Alabama defense this year is a young secondary who has already struggled at times against the pass. This weakness plays to South Carolina's strength which is a physically gifted set of wide receivers who can make plays and are very physically blockers in the running game. Call me crazy if you want, but I also feel like Coach Spurrier has something to prove to all his doubters out there as well and sees this game as a primetime opportunity to do so.

I have debated whether the Gamecocks have what it takes to upset a team like Alabama since the loss to Auburn, but I also feel like the stars are aligning for the Gamecocks to make a statement to the college football world. I think the Gamecocks win a close game Saturday against the Tide, a very physical hard fought game. I don't think Marcus Lattimore will rush for over 100 yards but he will surpass the 100 yard mark in total offense and be a dynamic catalyst for Gamecock offense.

I also think this is the game that Stephen Garcia proves all his doubters wrong and plays the best game of his college football career. I also think the defense is going to play at a completely different level than what they did at Auburn and is going to be just effective enough to keep Alabama from clicking on all cylinders. And yes, the little man Ace Sanders is going to make a big play in this game as well. The extra week of preparation for Alabama will prove fruitful for the Gamecocks.

I think Gamecock Nation is going to see a performance in which the Gamecocks leave it all out on the field and play as a team that expects to win, and I think they do, shocking the college football world and knocking off the Crimson Tide by the score final score of...

South Carolina - 27
Alabama - 24
David Porter - Beat Writer
For South Carolina to win the game, they must play to near perfection. The Gamecocks must control the ball and keep Ingram and Richardson off the field. Bama loves to stack the box on first down so the Gamecocks must hit quick passes to get into second/third and short. The defense must tackle well and keep Ingram and Richardson from turning a 4-yard run into a 30-yard run. Unfortunately, this one is pretty easy to pick.

Alabama - 27
South Carolina - 13
Ryan Bethea - Photographer
June 22, 2010 - Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Nebraska. South Carolina eliminates top seed Arizona State, backed by a 14-hit offensive explosion in CWS. Jan. 26, 2010 - Colonial Life Arena, Devan Downey scores 30 points in a heroic performance as the Gamecocks dethrone college basketball's darling, #1 Kentucky.

South Carolina has played the role of giant killers masterfully this year. Will October 9, 2010 complete the trifecta?

If Saturday's game will define Alabama's season like coach Nick Saban insists, then this massive SEC match-up also has all the ingredients needed to define USC's entire program. If the Gamecocks still have aspirations for a "special season", then they need to pull off one of those landmark victories rather soon. Why not start with the defending national champions, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the #1 team in the land. Will this be the four quaraters that turn the tide toward a big season for Carolina? A national television audience will be watching. ESPN College GameDay will be watching. And, unfortunately 83,000+ at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday will watch firsthand a legitimate Alabama team that basically has too many weapons for the Gamecocks to contain.

Expect to see a solid showing from a well-rested Gamecock team for at least three quarters before Alabama pulls away. If South Carolina has any chance at pulling off the unthinkable, they must put the ball in the hands of Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery early and often.

If South Carolina has the edge in any category, look no further than Alabama's schedule. Besides the coincidence that every team has a bye week before getting a stab at the Elephants, the Gamecocks may have caught the Tide at the best time possible. This is Alabama's third straight SEC game against a ranked team. It's also coming just seven days against what was suppose to be the Tide's biggest game that simply didn't match the hype. One Gamecock fan could only hope Alabama fell into a deeep sleep somewhere in the middle of that 31-6 rout of the Gators.

The Crimson Tide won't exactly roll in Columbia but it will be enough for Alabama to extend its school record to 30 straight regular season victories.

Alabama - 31
South Carolina - 24
Wes Mitchell
Well here we are, it's game day and I've looked at this thing from about every angle possible. Make no mistake, there are a lot of factors that point to this being a much closer game than anyone in Alabama probably wants to admit. Nick Saban is the best in the business at getting his players up, but these are still 18-22-year-olds and it's almost impossible to get up three straight weeks. If anybody can do it, it's Saban's crowd, though.

The Tide are used to winning. Down against, Arkansas, they didn't panic, stuck to their game plan, and found a way to win the game. This is what will make it so hard for South Carolina to actually pull the upset in the end. I predict a close game and the Gamecocks find a way to hang around at home, but can they actually make a big play in the end to win the game?

That's the difference between winning and losing to me. The Gamecocks have a recent history of NOT making that play they need. But every trend has got to stop sometime and today's as good as any. Gamecocks in the shocker...

South Carolina - 24
Alabama - 20

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