Game of the Week: No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 11 Georgia

Story posted September 6, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Aaron Carr

Each week ComRadio staff writer Aaron Carr will highlight a matchup in college football that he considers to be the “Game of the Week.” If you’re going to enjoy some college football action then this is the ONE contest that you do not want to miss. Carr’s “Game of the Week” selection for Week 2 of the college football season comes to you live from Athens, Georgia, where SEC East foes South Carolina and Georgia clash at Sanford Stadium.

The Game: No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 11 Georgia

Rarely does a “must win” situation present itself during week 2 of the college football season, but this matchup against SEC East rival South Carolina sure feels like must win territory for Georgia head coach Mark Richt, and his pack of Dawgs. After losing a close game to then No. 8 Clemson in the season opener, Georgia, who dropped to No. 11 in the polls, needs a win to stay alive in the BCS Title chase. A loss would drop the Bulldogs to 0-2 on the season, albeit two losses against opponents ranked in the top 10 in the polls, as Clemson and South Carolina both find themselves. Besides BCS aspirations, the Dawgs will also have revenge on their mind, as the Gamecocks 35-7 victory in last season’s annual meeting between the two programs was the worst loss to South Carolina in Mark Richt’s 12-year tenure at Georgia.

For Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina team, who has won three straight meetings against Georgia, this is a chance to begin SEC play 1-0 and to be taken seriously as a legitimate title contender. Right now most of the buzz surrounding the Gamecocks can be attributed to one freakishly talented individual (more on him later). If South Carolina and the Head Ball Coach hope to turn the corner and put the college football world on notice, they’ll need to beat the Dawgs for the fourth straight year, this time in Athens. The SEC East Division championship figures to be decided in another triple threat match between South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, with each team looking to gain an early advantage. Plain and simple, these are games that are circled on calendars years in advance by coaches, players, alumni and fans. For Georgia and South Carolina, the road to Atlanta begins Saturday. However, a convincing win by USC could force UGA into taking an early BCS U-turn.

Players to Watch:

DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina – Like you were expecting anybody else in this spot. After putting up pedestrian numbers in South Carolina’s season opener against in-state rival North Carolina (3 tackles, 0 sacks), the 6’6” 275 pounder will look to get back to big time business against Georgia. In Clowney’s two previous dates with the Dawgs, “The Freak” has absolutely feasted on Georgia’s offensive linemen to the tune of 6 tackles and 3 sacks. The Rock Hill, South Carolina, native was the driving force behind the Gamecocks absolutely suffocating defensive performance in last year’s game where Georgia only gained 224 total yards. Do you think the consensus no. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is ready for his SEC close-up? Please. That’s a clown question bro.

QB Aaron Murray, Georgia – For Georgia’s field general, this matchup with South Carolina is all about redemption. In last season’s 35-7 drubbing in Columbia, Murray posted arguably the worst output of his record-setting career, by going 11 of 31 for 109 yards with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. Murray, whose 95 career touchdown passes are tops in SEC history, simply must post the type of Murrayesque numbers we’ve come to expect in his three previous seasons, if he is going to get into Heisman and even NFL Draft first round discussions. I never felt that Murray got the respect he truly deserves. Now as a redshirt senior, the Tampa, Florida, native has one final season to leave a lasting impression before his SEC curtain call. Georgia fans liked his start to the year with 323 passing yards last week in the season opening loss to Clemson. But they’ll LOVE if Murray has a 248 yard, four touchdown, one interception day like he had in the 2011 meeting against South Carolina, also live from Athens, Georgia.

By the Numbers:

7 In Mark Richt’s 12 games against South Carolina as head coach of the Bulldogs, seven of those contests have been decided by a touchdown or less. The tightest margin of victory during Richt’s reign...a 17-15 Georgia win in 2005.

39 The number of rushing yards by Georgia running back Todd Gurley versus the Gamecocks last season. The 39 yards were Gurley’s worst single-game rushing performance of the year.

6 The number of completions by South Carolina QB Connor Shaw in last year’s victory versus Georgia, which was his lowest single-game total of the season. Luckily for Shaw, two of those completions were caught for touchdowns. 

Aaron Carr is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email adc5230@psu.edu.