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NCAA Football Florida GatorsSEC FootballSouth Carolina Gamecocks

#7 South Carolina Gamecocks at #2 Florida Gators Week 8 Preview

If Marcus Lattimore Can't Go; Does #7 South Carolina have a Chance Versus #2 Florida

Mark Zerof-US Presswire

The #2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 in SEC) are ranked the highest they have been in the BCS Standings since the season prior to Urban Meyer leaving the university and now this week they have yet another tough task on tap in the form of the #7 South Carolina Gamecocks (5-1, 2-1 in SEC) and another former head coach in Steve Spurrier. This should be yet another tough SEC match up as both teams are in the middle of their conference schedules which is a tough grind for any program in what seems to be the NFL‘s minor league system.

The Gamecocks enter the game coming off of a tough road loss to the #6 LSU Tigers last week 23-21 and looking to get back to their winning ways. South Carolina is ranked 74th in the FBS in passing yards gained per game (217.9 yards), 72nd in rushing yards gained per game (160.4 yards), 36th in points scored per game (34.1 points) and tied for fifth in points allowed per game (12.3 points).

The huge elephant in the room for South Carolina is the question of if junior running back Marcus Lattimore (129 carries for 584 yards and 10 TD along with 22 receptions for 156 yards this season) will be able to play in this game. Lattimore injured his hip last week and his status as of Thursday remains uncertain for Saturday afternoon’s contest, if he can’t go then the Gamecocks will need other players step up and in fill in for him to avoid their second consecutive loss on the year. Quarterback Conner Shaw (season: 910 passing yards, 9 TD, 4 INT, 69.4% completion rate, 76 carries for 280 yards and a TD) needs to be one of those guys stepping up and play much better than he has of late along with running backs freshman Mike Davis(13 carries for 117 yards and a TD this year) and senior Kenny Miles (27 carries for 100 yards and a TD this year).  If these three players can compete at a high level along with one of the top defensive players in the nation, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney then South Carolina has a chance to win on the road.

The Gators enter the game riding high following a 31-17 road victory over a tough Vanderbilt Commodores team and look to improve to 7-0 on the season and keep their national championship dreams intact. Florida is currently ranked 118th in the FBS in passing yards gained per game (145 yards), 14th in rushing yards gained per game (233.3 yards), 65th in points scored per game (27.8 points) and tied for fifth in points allowed per game (12.3 points).

Florida’s running game will be a huge factor in determining whether they can defeat yet another tough SEC opponent and the main focal point in that attack is senior Mike Gillislee. So far this season Gillislee has carried the ball 120 times for 615 yards and seven touchdowns and the Gators will require more of the same from him in this one against a very stout South Carolina defense. Quarterback Jeff Driskel (836 passing yards, 4 TD, INT with 57 carries for 326 yards and 4TD this season) will also be a huge component in Florida being able to get a win if nhe can get some type of passing attack going versus Clowney and the blazing Gamecock pass rush then it could be a big day for the Gators down in Gainesville. To do thst Driskel will need to find tight end Jordan Reed (21 receptions for 237 yards and a TD) across the middle and wideout Frankie Hammond (11 receptions for 204 yards and 2 TD) down field early and often.

This game could come down to whether or not Lattimore plays for the Gamecocks; if he does I like their chances to pull off the upset but if he doesn’t play (which I don’t think he will) then Gators should win this one by a score or two. I’ll take Florida 22-12.