Know Your Enemies – South Carolina Edition

Well, here’s my first try at handicapping a Bulldog game this year:

Five Reasons Carolina Will Win:
(1) Do I even have to post this?

The simmered down Ball Coach still just reeks of evil.
Everyone that bleeds Red & Black knows that the Ole’ Ball Coach has had a hankering for beating the living crap out of Georgia since we ruined his Heisman Trophy season more than 40 years ago. It seems every year, Spurrier will run those same bubble screens out to the receivers and somehow we’ll miss tackles and give up larger gains than we should. Spurrier’s offense has looked particularly atrocious at times the last two weeks, but I’ve got a feeling he’s got something up his sleeve for the game this Saturday.

(2) Vanderbilt Redux.

You can’t tell me those Carolina players won’t be fired up to beat a Georgia team with SEC and national title aspirations after losing to Vanderbilt for the second time in as many years. This is a team that’s going to be gunning for blood.
(3) September 4.

By playing that Vanderbilt loss on a Thursday, the Fightin’ Cocks have 9 full days to prepare for the Bulldawgs. This gives them more time than normal to work out the kinks and perhaps get that offense rolling.

(4) That defense.

Have you watched the last two weeks? Carolina’s defense has been downright scary at times. They completely shut down Vanderbilt for the better part of the game and made NC State look like they were setting offensive football back 30 years.

(5) Blair Walsh.
This is the real schedule. No more cupcakes to practice and show off how far we can kick the ball. Right now, kickoffs have been a problem for the ‘Dawgs and Walsh has not been tested in a pressure situation. It seems like every year a few games come down to kicks for us. How many games were won/lost over the Mark Richt era because of Billy Bennett, Andy Bailey, or Brandon Coutu? Enough to worry about a freshman kicker in a hostile environment.

Five Reasons Why The Bulldogs Will Win:
(1) Matthew Stafford.
Remember Stafford’s first major playing time? It was in Columbia two years ago when he was a blubbery, baby-faced freshman. He threw three INT’s, but made a clutch play call change at the line that allowed Danny Ware to score a TD that basically put the game out of reach. He won’t be intimidated by the crowd in Columbia, which might be the loudest stadium with the most rabid fanbase I’ve ever been to. You also can’t discount his performance in last year’s game, which was pretty pitiful. The way he’s played thusfar this year, he looks heads and shoulders above the guy that lost in the Carolina game last year so I look to him to make big strides.

(2) Chris Smelley/Tommy Beecher/Stephen Garcia/whatever random Carolina fan Spurrier decides to plug in as QB.
If you haven’t noticed, the ‘Cocks have been having a few problems with the QB. If the QB’s perform like they did against NC State or Vandy this one won’t even be close. They got away with tons of interceptions because NC State nor Vandy have any offense to speak of. Let’s see that fly against a good offense.
(3) Knowshon Moreno will touch the ball more than 14 times.
Last year Knowshow had 14 carries for 104 yards. If he touches the ball less than 14 times in the first half, I will be shocked. I think we’ll see that Carolina defense get a healthy dose of ‘Shon on Saturday. This team started rolling last year once Knowshon became the focal point of the offense and as the old quote goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I look for a big time game from Knowshon. Who knows, maybe Sportscenter might show a highlight of him this team, but only if he’s in the background of Spurrier.
(4) Mark Richt.
The proclaimed “King of the Road” is at it again. The man just knows how to prepare a team to play in a hostile environment, evidenced by his road record in the SEC. After that win in Knoxville in 2001, I think Dawg fans realized this wasn’t Jim Donnan or Ray Goff anymore and UGA wasn’t going to lay down just because we were outside the hedges (except for Jacksonville, of course).
(5) Because it’s South Carolina.
Come on. Yeah, our neighbors to the east every now and then come up and take a bite out of the ‘Dawgs, but for the better part of this series, it’s been pretty darn one-sided. The overall record following last year’s loss “Between the Hedges” stands at a pretty robust 44-14-2. Georgia has won 73% of the games in the history of this “rivalry”. That is astounding. Coming into this year South Carolina’s overall record as a program was 521-523-44. They have to finish at least 7-5 this year to be .500 overall as a program. Is that mediocrity, or what?
Being from Augusta, this is the first time since 2001 that I won’t be personally attending this game. So, I’ve got the beer, chips, and CBS HDTV ready to watch the Dawgs romp at 3:30 tomorrow. Despite all my talk earlier, my prediction:
Dawgs’ 27 Carolina 13
Go Dawgs!!
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