Last meeting: South Carolina 23, Florida 20 (OT) (2014)
All time series: Florida, 24-8-3
Time/TV: 12:00n on ESPN (also streaming on WatchESPN app)
Pregame betting line: Florida, 7.5
Summer analysis and prediction: South Carolina 20, Florida 16 (Yeah, I’m regretting that pick right about now.)
What to watch for: Treon Harris looked really, really bad for three quarters against Vanderbilt, but came on a bit in the fourth quarter. The improvement came because the offense was simplified significantly, and because Harris operated solely from the pocket. Now, can he pick up where he left off against a horrible Gamecocks defense that’s giving up 428 yards per game?
Florida key to the game: Just… don’t turn it over. Four giveaways kept Vanderbilt in the game a lot longer than they should have been in it. Protect the ball (I’m talking to YOU, D-Rob), and don’t give the one-dimensional SC offense a short field. If the Gators merely avoid mistakes, they’ll win handily.
South Carolina key to the game: South Carolina could get a nice day out of running back Brandon Wilds, but QB Perry Orth has to make some plays in the passing game. It could be difficult with Vernon Hargreaves presumably blanketing Pharaoh Cooper, but Florida knows SC’s only real threat to beat them is on the ground with Wild, so that’s what they’ll defend. Orth has to make them pay for it by hitting several big throws, or else the Gamecocks really won’t have a chance.
Prediction: Noon kickoffs are typically a disaster waiting to happen, but South Carolina is bad. Really bad. Their offense is predictable, their defense is simply inept (here comes another 100 yard day for Kelvin Taylor, by the way) and I’m wondering if their tank is running on E after devastating losses to Texas A&M and Tennessee in back to back weeks. This same team has beaten Florida four of the last five years, and the Gators will happily exact some payback by handing them the loss that capsizes the ship in the first of two tune-up games for FSU. Florida 34, Vanderbilt 9