Former coach Steve Spurrier returns to the swamp as the Florida Gators challenge the South Carolina Gamecocks for control of the Southeastern Conference East Division Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Gators built on their impressive win over LSU by trouncing Vanderbilt 31-17 last week, led by quarterback Jeff Driskel’s school-record breaking 177 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Driskel clinched Florida’s win with a 70-yard burst with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter, and his other touchdown runs were for 37 and 13 yards.
Driskel, along with top running back Mike Gillislee have grinded down opponents all season, leading the Gators to 233.3 rushing yards a game, good for 14th in the country. Florida maintained their running game against Vanderbilt despite the loss of two offensive linemen during the game.
The Gators will pit their power run game and grind out defense against a South Carolina squad itching for redemption after their heartbreaking loss last week to LSU.
South Carolina’s reign in the Top 5 wilted away after their 23-21 loss, as they failed to contain the Tigers 13-0 run in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Connor Shaw went 19-for-34 for 177 yards with two touchdowns, but his two picks in the fourth quarter stifled any chance the Gamecocks had for a comeback. Shaw tried to bring his team within field goal range for the win with :35 left, but saw his final pass intercepted by LSU’s Craig Loston and the Gamecocks suffered their first loss of the season.
Star running back Marcus Lattimore sought his third straight 100-yard rushing game, but only gained 35 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Lattimore will not start Saturday due to a hip injury, but he will travel with the team and see some action during the game.
During Spurrier’s 12 years as Florida head coach, he amassed six Southeastern Conference titles and one national championship in 1996. The 67-year-old returned to the college ranks in 2005 after a poor stint in the NFL and joined up with South Carolina, a program he has turned around and made a Top 10 force this season.
Betting Odds: Florida is favored by 3.5 points
Over/Under: 41 points
Prediction: Spurrier’s return will not hinder the Gators, who have their eyes on their first national title since 2008. Even if Shaw has a big game, Lattimore’s health is the key for the Gamecocks offense and he won’t be nearly as effective in a minimal role. Florida should move on and continue to contend with a victory.
Predicted Score: Florida 24, South Carolina 20