The second installment of our SEC Debate among SDS staff members poses a question that could determine the outcome of Saturday’s pivotal SEC East showdown in Columbia, S.C. pitting the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks.


Jon Cooper (@JonSDS): Mike Davis

Yeah, I’m going against the grain. Todd Gurley is the best player in college football, but Saturday Mike Davis will shine. Davis finally looks healthy, and he proved it last week against ECU. Now, UGA’s defense is a different animal than ECU’s, but Steve Spurrier always has something special for Georgia. And furthermore, South Carolina always brings their “A” game against Georgia in Williams-Brice Stadium. They’re going to play better, and Spurrier knows his biggest key is get Davis settled in early and attack the Bulldogs’ defense. I’m not exactly picking South Carolina to pull the upset, and I feel this game will be a low, grind-it-out affair. Todd Gurley is a boss back, but Mike Davis will outshine Gurley Saturday.

Ethan Levine (@EthanLevineSDS): Todd Gurley

Gurley is the choice here. He may have fewer opportunities to run with the ball while sharing time in a deep stable of Georgia running backs, but, ultimately, he is among the most talented players at any position on any team in the nation. There is no intent to slight Davis’ abilities, but if Gurley is truly a Heisman contender, he must show he is obviously the better player in this high-profile game. The Bulldogs’ tailback should be plenty rested after a bye last week, and he’ll be Georgia’s go-to guy in tight situations against South Carolina. When Georgia was in trouble against Clemson, it was Gurley who played a major role in bailing the out the Bulldogs. Davis may get more carries, but Gurley will capitalize more on his opportunities, making the plays that determine a close SEC East battle.

Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS): Mike Davis

This is Davis’ game, the Heisman platform on which he promised to shine this spring during his ‘running angry’ campaign. Coming off a multi-touchdown performance against East Carolina, the Atlanta native’s had two weeks to digest all of the hoopla surrounding his buddy a little further south in Athens and will try and use TGIII’s spotlight to silence the critics. Davis IS the reason the Gamecocks were picked to win the SEC East this fall and it’s up to him against Jeremy Pruitt’s hard-hitting defense to keep South Carolina in contention. The buzz surrounding this game was squashed against a concrete wall at Williams-Brice Stadium following Texas A&M’s blowout win in the opener, but the Gamecocks can close the book on that one with a victory this weekend. Gurley’s going to get his yardage, but Davis goes for a higher total.

Jason Hall (@JasonHallSDS): Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley. Gurley is coming off a huge Week 1 performance and a bye week. His legs will be fresh and all eyes will be focused on his performance against a division rival on the road. For Gurley be considered a Heisman frontrunner, he will need big performances in big games. For Davis, he faces the tougher matchup against a talented Georgia defense. Following a slow start, the Bulldogs made adjustments and looked dominant in the second half of their Week 1 win over Clemson. South Carolina hasn’t shown enough reason to believe that Gurley won’t have another field day on Saturday.

Drew Laing (@DLaingSDS): Mike Davis

I’ll go with Mike Davis. Probably not a smart pick, but I’m in the camp that South Carolina may surprise some people this week against Georgia. This is not to say Todd Gurley doesn’t have a big game, but the Gamecocks, especially Davis, are out to prove something. It’s been a slower start for Davis than he would have liked this season, but you can not discount just how strong of a runner this guy is at just 5-foot-9. Like Gurley, he runs hard and he runs fast. Last season he racked up 198 total yards and one touchdown against the Bulldogs. With his team’s SEC Championship chances on the line, I believe Davis puts the offense on his back en route to an upset.

Jordan Cox (@Jordan_Cox): Todd Gurley

I like Todd Gurley. Georgia has the more experienced offensive line, and that unit performed well against Clemson. The Bulldogs also have the deeper stable of backs. Keith Marshall, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will all see significant playing time, which helps to limit the blows Gurley takes keeping him fresh late into the fourth quarter.

Christopher Smith (@csmithSDS): Todd Gurley
I think this is more of a projection of which team will win the game than a projection of which back is better. Unless it’s back-and-forth until the end, expect the team with a fourth-quarter lead to pound the ball. Georgia was a six-point favorite as of Wednesday, so I lean toward Gurley with this question. It’s a tough projection. Gurley may be the best running back in the country if he stays healthy, but Davis isn’t far off. South Carolina’s offense relies more on Davis than Georgia’s does on Gurley, and the Gamecocks will feed the ball to No. 28 all game, barring a two-score deficit in the second half. I expect both of them to get between 20 and 30 carries and 100 rushing yards. With the exception of Alabama and LSU, every SEC team would love the luxury of either of these guys in the backfield.