GEORGIA BULLDOGS (5-0)
at SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (5-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: South Carolina -1½, Total: 55
Two of the nation’s elite teams square off on Saturday night in Columbia, SC when No. 5 Georgia visits No. 6 South Carolina.
Georgia has dominated this series recently, going 7-3 SU, but South Carolina is 6-2-2 ATS in this span, including two straight SU victories. The Gamecocks scored on a fake punt, INT return and fumble return in a wild 45-42 win in Athens last year. Aaron Murray threw 4 TD passes in a losing effort, and he is currently No. 3 in FBS passing efficiency, completing 69% of his passes for 1,378 yards, 12 TD and 3 INT. South Carolina star RB Marcus Lattimore has started 2012 a little slowly as he regains strength in his surgically-repaired knee, but has 358 rushing yards in two career games versus Georgia.
Who will prevail in this clash of SEC titans? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Georgia’s offense is putting up 48.2 PPG (8th in nation) and 536 total YPG (11th in FBS), which includes scoring 48.3 PPG in three SEC games. The Bulldogs are coming off a wild 51-44 win over Tennessee, where the freshman RB duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall ran for 294 yards on 34 carries (8.6 YPC) with five touchdowns. For the season, Gurley leads the SEC with 536 rushing yards and 9 TD, gaining 7.9 yards per carry. Marshall has 428 rushing yards on 8.2 YPC and five scores. Although Murray is having a huge season, he will no longer have the services of leading receiver Michael Bennett (24 rec, 345 yds, 4 TD) who suffered a torn ACL in Tuesday’s practice. However, plenty of weapons remain in the passing game, most notably senior WRs Tavarres King (307 rec yds, 3 TD) and Marlon Brown (272 rec yds, 3 TD). Georgia’s defense obviously needs to improve in a big way from last week, when it allowed 281 passing yards and 197 rushing yards to the Vols despite the return of suspended stars LB Alec Ogletree and S Bacarri Rambo. Despite the big yardage allowed, the Bulldogs still forced four turnovers, giving them 10 over the past four weeks. Superstar LB Jarvis Jones also failed to record a sack against Tennessee for the first time all season, but he still has 4½ sacks and eight Tackles For Loss in 2012.
Like Georgia, South Carolina has also been thriving on offense, scoring more than 30 points in each of the past four games, all ATS victories. Connor Shaw has been nearly perfect in the past two contests (wins over Missouri and Kentucky), completing 35-of-39 passes for 397 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT. He was a big reason his team was able to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit to the Wildcats and outscore them 31-0 in the second half. Lattimore has also been much better in these past two games, compiling 281 total yards and four touchdowns. He was a big reason the Gamecocks won in Athens last year, compiling 176 rushing yards and a touchdown. South Carolina’s much-ballyhooed front four has not disappointed this season, as the Gamecocks rank second in the nation with 4.4 sacks per game. Jadeveon Clowney has 5½ sacks, while four others have at least two sacks this season.