Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
Time: 12:00 PM ET on ESPN
All-Time Series: Florida leads 28-9-3
Last 10 Meetings: Tied 5-5
Spread: Florida -18.5
ALL WHITE IN GAINESVILLE ⚪️⚪️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/SPQFFEZqFo— The Spurs Up Show (@TheSpursUpShow) October 1, 2020
Only in recent years has the South Carolina-Florida game been a competitive matchup.
Prior to 2010, the all-time series stood at 23-4 in favor of Florida, and the Gators won 13 in a row from 1992-2004.
However, since Steve Spurrier became coach at South Carolina, Florida only leads 9-6 and the record is tied 5-5 in the last 10 meetings.
With that said, Dan Mullen is 3-0 against Will Muschamp at South Carolina, and always seems to find a way to finish games strong against Coach Boom’s defenses.
The Gamecocks will hope to have learned from their past mistakes and pull off a huge upset on the road against #3 Florida this week.
When Florida Has The Ball
The Florida offense had an absolute field day against Ole Miss last Saturday.
The Kyle Trask – Kyle Pitts connection was as potent as ever, and it is proving to be one of the best offensive connections in the nation.
Kyle Pitts vs Ole Miss— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 26, 2020
🔹 8 catches
🔹 170 yards
🔹 4 TDs pic.twitter.com/56LKkwFqw2
Trask threw for over 400 yards, 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions on 71.4% completion. Pitts tallied 170 yards and a whopping 4 touchdowns on just 8 receptions, giving him a 50% touchdown rate for the game.
Dan Mullen does a masterful job of moving him around and creating matchup problems for the defense. Pitts’ versatility is as good as it gets, he can line up virtually anywhere on the field and have success.
Mullen even set up a play where Pitts was lined up as a fullback, and ended up getting a reception. Containing Kyle Pitts will be absolutely paramount for the Gamecocks on Saturday.
I believe the best matchup for Pitts is cornerback Israel Mukuamu, who has the size, speed and length to be able to limit Pitts abilities. I hope to see Muschamp align Mukuamu with Pitts on every play possible.
Getting to Kyle Trask will also be an enormous key for the Gamecocks defense. Ole Miss only sacked Trask one time last week, and that played a huge part in allowing him to have such a good day through the air.
South Carolina will need to surpass that sack total by a good margin to have defensive success, and especially get to him at timely moments.
The Florida run-game is mysterious at this point in the season. There is no clear bell-cow running back, and their leading rusher last week was wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
Can your Slot WR do this through contact?? Florida's Kadarious Toney showing amazing balance and power on the handoff here. pic.twitter.com/wJE2BtNWcF— James Russell (@jamesru1) September 26, 2020
However, the group did average 6.8 yards per rush which is a very efficient number. It should be noted that the Ole Miss defense is probably a bottom half unit in the nation, and South Carolina should do its job lowering that number, as well as the passing game numbers.
As is the case in every SEC game, the battle of the trenches will go a long way in determining who holds the upper hand in this game.
Can the Florida offensive line keep Trask in a clean pocket? Can they create consistent running lanes?
If the answer to those questions is yes, the Gamecocks are going to have almost no chance for the upset.
UF OL vs SC DL: Push
UF RB+TE vs SC LB: Edge, Florida
UF WR vs SC DB: Edge, South Carolina
When South Carolina Has The Ball
The Florida defense was quietly a disappointment against Ole Miss week one. The unit allowed 613 total yards, including 443 passing yards on a robust 13.4 yards per pass.
The Ole Miss offense, under new head coach Lane Kiffin, was expected to be a potent group, but those numbers are far too big for a true contender to allow.
Florida did a better job limiting the Rebels run game, only allowing 3.8 yards per rush.
The Florida defense is a talented unit, and I expect that last weeks lousy showing is just the group getting oriented to game speed after a strange offseason with limited practice.
As far as the Gamecocks offense, there is a good opportunity to follow up last weeks game with another solid performance.
Even though Shi Smith will be keyed in on, he has an opportunity to have another big game. Last week, Florida allowed the Rebels top receiver to go for 227 receiving yards on 10 catches. If Mike Bobo can replicate some things schematically that worked against Florida, Smith could have another great showing as the top receiving option.
The ground game will be very important for South Carolina to establish for multiple reasons.
Obviously it opens up a lot of things for the pass game, but more importantly to keep the ball away from the Gators offense. The South Carolina offensive line showed quick improvement throughout the game last week, and they should pick up where they left off and have a solid day.
Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is known to be very blitz happy, sometimes even to a fault.
Having an older quarterback with experience will be good for the Gamecocks in that regard, but play calling will be a crucial aspect as well.
The quick passing game will have to be on point to counter the Florida blitzes, and there is little margin for error for missed throws or drops.
At the end of the day this side of the ball will come down to the running game, especially in early downs. If the Gamecocks can consistently be in 3rd and short, the Florida defense will be on their heels and out of their comfort zone.
However, if South Carolina finds themselves in third and longs, the Florida defense will feel right at home and it could be a long day for the Gamecocks.
SC OL vs UF DL: Edge, Florida
SC RB+TE vs UF LB: Edge, Florida
SC WR vs UF DB: Edge, Florida
SC QB vs UF QB: Edge, Florida
SC Coaching vs UF Coaching: Edge, Florida
While Florida is clearly the better team, the margin on a lot of them is closer than many would think.
South Carolina seems to always find a way to play Florida close, and I don’t see that changing this season. Also, it definitely helps to catch them this early in the season when kinks are still being worked out.
Limiting mistakes and timely play-calling will go a long way for Muschamp’s team. South Carolina will probably not win, but I think the Cocks cover +18.5.
Also, don’t forget the last time the Muschamp played on the road vs #3 at noon on ESPN.