After an amazing year picking games in 2012, the FITS sports desk is 1-1 through the first weekend of 2013. We picked South Carolina to easily defeat North Carolina last Thursday – conjuring up a 34-12 Gamecock victory over the Tar Heels in our crystal ball.
That pick wasn’t too far off. In fact were it not for a disruptive two-hour weather delay we think it would have been on the money. Even with the delay, head coach Steve Spurrier’s team easily defeated the Tar Heels 27-10 – more than covering the 12.5-point Vegas line.
Two days later, though, we missed badly on the Clemson-Georgia game – predicting a 33-20 Bulldog victory.
Obviously that pick didn’t pan out as Heisman Trophy candidate Tajh Boyd and the Tigers beat Georgia 38-35.
This week odds makers have installed Georgia – which is playing its 2013 home opener – as a three-point favorite over the Gamecocks. And most of the social media projections we’ve seen – including a few from Gamecock fans – are also anticipating a good day for the red-and-black.
We’re not buying it …
Sure Georgia is pissed. They were humiliated a year ago against the Gamecocks in Williams Brice Stadium and were humiliated last weekend in Death Valley. They are team with nothing to lose – and everything to prove.
But guess who else comes into this game with something to prove? USC Heisman Trophy candidate Jadeveon Clowney, who had a less-than-stellar 2013 debut against North Carolina.
Georgia’s offensive line looked absolutely terrible against Clemson – whose front four defensive linemen are nowhere near as talented as the front four for South Carolina. So while Georgia has clear advantages at the offensive skill positions – the Gamecocks’ ability to control the line of scrimmage should effectively neutralize that edge.
Aaron Murray and the Bulldog offense will score some points, sure (especially with running back Todd Gurley at 100 percent following a quad injury last week against the Tigers) … but not enough.
As for the Gamecock offense, Spurrier kept it in low gear for most of the North Carolina game – keeping and the vast majority of the USC playbook in his back pocket. Expect him to open things up against an inexperienced Georgia defense. And expect the young Bulldog defenders to have even more trouble with Gamecock running back Mike Davis than they had against Clemson’s Roderick McDowell.
Davis is bigger and faster than McDowell … and is running behind a much better offensive line.
One final point: South Carolina has had two extra days to rest and prepare for Georgia – which as we’ve noted previously could be a critical (and overlooked) advantage for the Gamecocks.