While the top spot in the SEC East is already accounted for, South Carolina still has some bowl jockeying to do as it hosts conference rival Florida on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks were worthy opponents in last week’s 24-10 loss to No. 1 Georgia and have two winnable games ahead before wrapping up their regular-season schedule against powerhouse Clemson.
Will Muschamp’s crew couldn’t do much on offense against the vaunted Bulldogs - not many teams have - but the South Carolina defense was impressive in its own right, limiting Georgia to its second-lowest point total of the season. The Bulldogs needed 53 carries to amass 242 yards on the ground, and relied on a pair of TD passes from Jake Fromm to remain unbeaten on the season. “We made Jake Fromm play quarterback,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said afterward. “And I compliment Jake: He played extremely well.” That’s something the Gators can’t say; they’ve dropped four straight and have surrendered a whopping 88 points in back-to-back losses to Georgia and Missouri.
TV: Noon ET, CBS. LINE: South Carolina -7
ABOUT FLORIDA (3-5, 3-4 SEC): Things couldn’t get much worse in Gainesville, with interim head coach Randy Shannon watching the Gators come out flat one week after Jim McElwain was fired following the 42-7 loss to the Bulldogs. If that weren’t enough, linebacker David Reese lambasted his team following the Tigers defeat, telling reporters: “It’s sometimes disappointing when everybody doesn’t want to come together and just play for each other. That’s sad to see. We’ve still got a lot to play for. Me personally and our defense, we want to play for those guys. We can’t have appearances like we just had. That’s unacceptable.” Left guard Brett Heggie will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a leg injury in the loss to Missouri.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (6-3, 4-3): It won’t help their 2017 bowl prospects, but wide receiver Deebo Samuel announced last weekend he’ll be returning to the Gamecocks next season after suffering a setback in his recovery from a fractured fibula that limited him to three games this season. Tight end Hayden Hurst was named a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the most outstanding player who began his collegiate career as a walk-on; he has 30 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns and posted a 7-for-93 line in the loss to the Bulldogs. Quarterback Jake Bentley will look to get back on track after throwing just one touchdown pass against three interceptions over his last three games.
1. Bentley ranks fourth in the SEC in passing yards (1,986).
2. The Gamecocks have allowed foes to convert 45.5 percent of their third-down chances, 115th among FBS teams.
3. Shannon has tabbed QB Malik Zaire to make his second consecutive start.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 27, Florida 20