As Georgia beat Austin Peay 45-0 behind a bevy of big plays and South Carolina took down Coastal Carolina 49-15, the Bulldogs and Gamecocks square off in the Southeastern Conference opener that both sides have been eyeing since the schedule came out.
Ranked No. 3, the defending Southeastern Conference champion Bulldogs are hungry for a shot at something special once again. Georgia is extremely talented, but for so many highly touted freshmen and sophomores, this will be their toughest challenge in a leading role.
It will be hot. It will be loud. And the Gamecocks believe, as does much of the national punditry, which has pegged Saturday as the upset trap for the highly touted Bulldogs.
Expectations are high in Columbia. The Gamecocks went 9-4 last year and capped a surprising campaign with an Outback Bowl win over Michigan.
But there is that word, expectations. The Bulldogs certainly have them. And now the Gamecocks do, too. South Carolina won three straight meetings with Georgia in Columbia from 2010-2014, but that came under the watch of legendary coach Steve Spurrier. The Dogs have now won three consecutive matchups in the series, bidding Spurrier adieu 52-20 in Athens in 2015, and securing a 28-14 win in Columbia and 24-10 Athens victory the last two years in the head to head battles between the old Bulldog players and coaching comrades Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp.
When it comes to the expectations for the Bulldogs and Gamecocks, much of it has to do with the two Jakes.
South Carolina’s junior quarterback energized the Gamecock faithful and jump-started Will Muschamp’s program when he came on behind center in the second half of the 2016 season. The Garnet and Black has been steady under center ever since, and Bentley plus one of the SEC’s best receiving corps is a major reason that South Carolina is confident.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm was simply magnificent as a freshman last season. Mature beyond his years, Fromm was a major factor in the Bulldogs 2017 SEC championship run, and his leadership will be counted on heavily in this hot, tough, loud and hostile road environment in Columbia. These young and talented Bulldogs will face a true trial by fire.
The winner of this one gets an early leg up in the SEC East.