Right now, the Gamecocks are fighting an uphill battle to play in December.
The team needs three more wins for bowl eligibility, needing to win every game down the stretch. The remaining schedule includes current No. 1 team Clemson and The Citadel, which is undefeated in the Southern Conference.
But, first, the Florida Gators come to town.
The No. 11 Gators are coming in after securing a spot in the SEC Championship last week against Vanderbilt.
Florida’s defense ranks near the top in the country and South Carolina’s defense hasn’t been able to stop much in the first half of games this season.
It’s a tough task for Shawn Elliott and company, but not impossible. Here’s what has to happen for South Carolina to pull off an upset against the Gators.
South Carolina has to catch them napping.
Florida is coming off an emotional win against the Commodores to continue their dark-horse candidacy for the College Football Playoff. Florida only has one game left against a ranked opponent (Nov. 28 against Florida State). The Gators could be overlooking the two games before the Seminoles, which give the Gamecocks ample opportunity to come out and throw the first punch. Momentum will play a big role, and if the Gamecocks seize that early, they could come out with a win.
Perry Orth needs to play like a man possessed.
So just a little bit more than what he’s already been doing the past two games? Yeah, pretty much. Aside from the one pick-6 against Texas A&M, Orth has been impressive. Over the past two games he’s thrown for 425 yards on 35-for-63 passing. He threw for three touchdowns against Tennessee. He’s also rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown over two games. Brandon Wilds and the rushing game are a given, but Orth will need to do more against the Gators: throw for a few more yards and capitalize on red-zone opportunities (isn’t that always a big deal with this team?). If he can do that and play mistake-free, then the offense should have a productive day against a robust Florida defense.
The defense forces turnovers.
It seems like the defense was always a fraction of a second away from about 20 turnovers against Tennessee. Yes, the team had three, but there were three pass breakups and even more balls slipping through defender’s arms. Those opportunities can’t go by the wayside against a good Gator team. The South Carolina defense has played well in the second half of games, but it’ll take a whole game to beat Florida. If the defense can force takeaways, give the offense a short field in order to pull off the upset.
Sean Kelly doesn’t see the field much.
It’s weird to think the team’s potential MVP couldn’t see the field and the Gamecocks would be in a better position to win. If Sean Kelly doesn’t see the field much it would more than likely mean the Gamecocks are scoring or they are in opponent territory. If Kelly doesn’t see the field, then the Gamecocks are moving the ball well and keeping the Gator defense on its heels.
Prediction: Florida should be napping, especially with a noon kickoff after a pretty emotional win. The duo of Orth and Wilds should have a big day. The Gamecocks will come out swinging, which should mean points scored. If the defense can put together a complete game, it should be a close, gritty Gamecock win.
Final Score: South Carolina 23, Florida 21