When longtime rivals face off, you can leave records at the door. While that may sound like nothing more than a rah-rah sports cliche which has been handed down from generation to generation, it’s actually a very true sentiment in many different cases.
Rivalry games, whether due to geographic proximity or recent battles for playoff supremacy, tend to bring out the best in opposing squads. Barring a massive gap in skill level at the time of the present meeting, chances are it’ll be an entertaining affair that stays within reach for both clubs until one finally puts it away in the latter stages of the game.
As always, there’s no guarantee it will play out exactly in that fashion, but heightened passions on both sides at least somewhat bolster the chances of it happening. That’s the situation at hand when Georgia travels to South Carolina on Saturday.
While Georgia is clearly the more talented club, South Carolina would like nothing more than to let a little of the air out of the school’s balloon, also known as its national title aspirations. In short, we could be in line for a dandy when these two schools take the field in the late afternoon window.
#3 Georgia @ #10 South Carolina, 3:30 PM EST, CBS
- Georgia -10 (-110)
- South Carolina +10 (-110)
- Georgia -378
- South Carolina +318
- Over 56 (-120)
- Under 56 (+100)
Georgia vs. South Carolina pick:
Rivalry talk aside, this is an intriguing tilt between two nationally ranked clubs that come into the game with marks of 1-0. Georgia is ranked #3 and handled Austin Peay by a score of 45-0 in Week 1, while #24 South Carolina was a 49-15 victor over Coastal Carolina last week.
Heading into the season, oddsmakers and prognosticators bestowed lofty expectations on Georgia. The Bulldogs have 7/1 odds to take down the national championship, a projected win total of 105, and +200 odds to win the SEC title.
For South Carolina, it’s 100/1 odds for a national crown, estimated wins of 7.5, and 30/1 odds to take down the SEC. While Georgia is clearly the more talented squad, there’s zero chance that the Gamecocks don’t have this tilt circled on the calendar as a proverbial measuring stick game.
During last week’s dismantling of Austin Peay, Georgia’s offense looked solid before the school called off the dogs at halftime. The Bulldogs were up 38-0 at that point, largely off of the strong play of signal caller Jake Fromm and a balanced rushing attack.
The sophomore QB completed 12 of 16 for 157 yards and two scores, while the committee approach in the backfield produced a whopping 284 total rushing yards and three scores. Junior Elijah Holyfield and sophomores D’Andre Swift and Demetris Robertson were the Bulldog backs who found paydirt.
The Gamecocks remained in control throughout last week’s game as well, as they were up 42-6 after three quarters. Junior QB Jake Bentley had himself a day, as he completed 22 of 29 for 250 yards and 4 TDs.
Juniors Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams led a backfield that was tremendously productive on the whole. The Gamecocks produced a total of 263 rushing yards and a pair of scores. Dowdle and Williams accounted for the scores while churning out 105 and 82 yards respectively.
The first meeting between these two schools took place back in 1894, a 40-0 victory for Georgia. The Bulldogs hold an overall lead in the series of 50-18-2. There have been a number of entertaining games over the past decade between these two schools.
Over the last 10 meetings, Georgia is 6-4 straight up and 3-6-1 against the spread. The Over has been the correct choice six times, including for four of the last five years. Georgia has a three-game winning streak over its rival.
The projected total of 56 points is the highest since the 2015 meeting, which checked in at 53.5 points. The last two contests have been projected for well south of 50 points (41.5 and 45). Last year, Georgia was a 23.5-point favorite in a game with a projected total of 45 points.
The Bulldogs would go on to win that tilt on their home turf by a score of 24-10. Over the last five games, South Carolina has kept the final margin to three points or less just once, an entertaining 38-35 victory for the Gamecocks in 2014.
The other four meetings have seen a final margin of victory of 11 points or more. Georgia is heading north for this one, and the spread is much tighter at 10 points. The Bulldogs are just 2-3 over their last five trips to Gamecocks turf.
Even if we throw last week’s tuneup games out the window and start from scratch, we know that there’s a talent disparity to account for. The name Georgia was littered across preseason playoff projections, while South Carolina would generally consider a top bowl game to be a solid capper for 2018.
That said, the Gamecocks have a chance to really solidify their standing as a school to be reckoned with for the remainder of 2018. A victory over its rival would easily propel it up several notches in the Top 25 poll, while the Bulldogs national title hopes would suddenly be dealt a major body blow.
Despite the extra motivation for South Carolina, it’s pretty tough to envision a scenario in which Georgia head coach Kirby Smart hasn’t been drilling his squad that they are walking into a potential hornet’s nest on Saturday. That being the case, we can fully expect the Bulldogs to be properly motivated for this one.
While we expect a spirited effort from the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs edge in talent will be the determining factor. However, this game is closer than the spread suggests.Georgia wasn’t all that dominant against a cupcake opponent last week, and they’re going to have a tougher time against a properly motivated rival. We’ll look for the Bulldogs to walk away victorious, but we’re expecting the Gamecocks to cover.