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Bulldogs, Gamecocks Renew SEC East Rivalry in Columbia

After both fattened up on feeble opposition in Week 1, the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks will get a better sense of where they stand in 2018 when they meet in this clash of SEC East Division rivals. No. 3 Georgia pounded FCS foe Austin Peay 45-0 Saturday in the Bulldogs’ first game since a gutting overtime loss to Alabama in last year’s national championship, while the Gamecocks kicked off their campaign with a 49-15 rout of Coastal Carolina. Georgia opened as a 10-point road favorite before immediately being bet down to 9.5.

SHARK BITES
  • Georgia is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 road games.
  • South Carolina is 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 SEC games.
  • The UNDER is 9-2 in the last 11 meetings at South Carolina.

Georgia vs South Carolina Game Center

GEORGIA PROVES IT STILL HAS DEPTH IN THE BACKFIELD

It’s difficult (and maybe even dangerous) to make any conclusions about the Bulldogs based on their one-sided victory over an FCS opponent in Week 1. In fact, head coach Kirby Smart didn’t even act impressed by the fact that his team outgained Austin Peay by nearly a 4:1 ratio in yards. “We’ve got to grow up and we’ve got to grow up fast, because the team that’s ahead of us is not easy,” Smart told reporters, referring to South Carolina.

However, Smart had to be pleased with what he saw at tailback, which was a question mark for Georgia this year after losing longtime stars Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to the NFL. Seven different players produced double-digit rushing yardage totals in the opener vs Austin Peay, highlighted by a 72-yard TD scamper by transfer Demetris Robertson and 66 yards on six carries by freshman James Cook.

The Bulldogs also demonstrated impressive depth at quarterback. Starter Jake Fromm went 12-for-16 for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns before turning things over to backup Justin Fields, who showed off both his arm (7-for-8 for 63 yards and a TD) and his legs (33 yards on 3 carries) in Georgia’s victory.

WILL SOUTH CAROLINA LOOK TO PUSH THE PACE AGAIN?

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp isn’t exactly known for high-tempo attacks and throwing the ball all over the field. An impotent offense cost him his first head coaching job with Florida, and the Gamecocks have gone UNDER the total in 16 of 27 games since Muschamp took over the helm in 2016.

But the Cocks are apparently interested in pushing the tempo a lot more this season on offense in their first full year under offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon. That was the talk in the preseason, at least, and South Carolina showed glimpses of having a more potent attack last week against Coastal Carolina. The Gamecocks scored three touchdowns before the game was 21 minutes old, quarterback Jake Bentley threw four touchdown passes in limited action, and six different players reached the end zone.

It’ll be interesting to see if South Carolina is as interested in pushing pace when it’s a sizable underdog. As good as the Gamecocks’ passing game looked last week, nearly half of their yards (263 of 557) came on the ground. Don’t be surprised if South Carolina goes back to its conservative roots with the same run-heavy, ball-control offense it’s used to go UNDER in 14 of its last 18 SEC contests.

GAMECOCKS LOVE THE UNDERDOG ROLE

Although South Carolina’s program is just 26-26 straight up since posting three consecutive 11-win seasons under Steve Spurrier from 2011 to 2013, the Gamecocks have consistently been a tough out. They went 6-1-1 ATS against SEC competition last year, are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 as a home underdog and own a 6-3-1 ATS mark in their last 10 vs Georgia.

However, the Bulldogs have thrived on the road of late, going 9-1 SU and ATS in their last 10 away from Athens. They’ve also been reliable in the role of road favorites, covering the number in seven of their last nine when laying points in enemy territory. And when Georgia gets the job done on the road early in the season, it’s usually the defense leading the way. The Bulldogs have gone UNDER in 20 of their last 25 road contests in September.