Potential upset of the year in the SEC East
Ole Miss over Alabama was the obvious not-so-trendy upset pick out West, but picking a wild-card matchup in the East presents a much different challenge. At this point, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Mizzou are all very close in terms of talent, but most think the Bulldogs and Gamecocks are the only serious contenders.
Road games are always treacherous and there’s one in particular I’m keeping an eye on that could decide the division.
POTENTIAL SEC EAST UPSET OF THE YEAR
FLORIDA OVER SOUTH CAROLINA in Gainesville on Nov. 15
Projected spread at kickoff: Gamecocks by 1.5
Projected records of both teams: South Carolina 8-1; Florida 7-2
Popular opinion: South Carolina’s too strong up front and Florida’s ineptitude on offense will lead to defeat
Why it could happen: Calling this one an upset should be cheating considering South Carolina’s all-time record at The Swamp, but I’m expecting the Gamecocks to have the slight Vegas edge at kickoff. The Gamecocks’ only win in 13 trips to Gainesville came in 2010 when Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore led Steve Spurrier’s group to its only Eastern Division championship. Post-Tebow, this matchup’s often been a hard-hitting affair decided by field position and late stops. Few have picked the Gators as a division contender, but a 7-2 start with Spurrier’s nationally-ranked Gamecocks coming to town would have Ben Hill Griffin’s hype meter on another level.
Toughest obstacles: South Carolina’s 6-0 since 2009 coming off bye weeks including two wins over Florida and a monumental upset of top-ranked Alabama in 2010. Like most teams with extra time to prepare, the Gamecocks seem to execute with more precision and play to their fullest potential with the luxury of a few more days on the practice field. Even with last season’s anemic, year-long struggle on offense, the Gators were a touchdown drive away from pulling off the upset. For Florida to win, Will Muschamp’s team can’t settle for fields goals against one of the league’s top offenses.
What to watch: The Gamecocks are 18-6 in the SEC over the past three seasons with five of those losses coming away from Williams-Brice Stadium. Last time this game was in Gainesville, the Gators benefited from a turnover on South Carolina’s first snap — a fumble inside its own 5-yard line. Florida scored three plays later and never looked back, running away with an emphatic 33-point win. The chances of the Gamecocks giving it away four more times on the road this season are slim, but the winner of the turnover battle has won this game six consecutive years.