Yangxing Ding / The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks refuse to overlook struggling Gators

The South Carolina football team will host Florida in a game where it can clinch the second spot behind Georgia in the SEC East. 

The Gators are entering their second game under interim head coach Randy Shannon, holding a 3-5 overall and 3-4 SEC record. 

The Gators lead the series against the Gamecocks, 26-8-3. The last time these two teams met, Florida defeated the Gamecocks, 20-7, behind its balanced ground and air attack along with its stout rush defense. 

The last time these teams met in Columbia, the Gators took a 24-14 victory, despite a fourth quarter comeback effort led by South Carolina quarterback Perry Orth and wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. 

There’s a lot at stake for the Gamecocks in this matchup. Not only is this a chance for head coach Will Muschamp to defeat the team he used to coach for, but also it will be a statement win showing the Gamecocks can contend in the SEC. It would put the Gamecocks’ conference record up to 5-3 and their total record would improve to 7-3, which would surpass the total amount of wins for Muschamp last year. Last year, the Gamecocks finished with a 6-7 record and a 3-5 conference record. 

The Gators have struggled this year. This can be seen with the firing of former head coach Jim McElwain. They had an especially rough week last week, losing to Missouri, 45-16. That loss gave the Tigers their first SEC win of the season. The Gators started out the year strong with a 3-1 record, but fell off fast with four straight losses in SEC play. 

While the Gamecocks are favored by seven points, they hope to avoid falling into a "trap game" scenario. 

The Gamecocks will still be without a few weapons, including Bryson Allen-Williams, Deebo Samuel and Rico Dowdle. This puts the Gamecocks in a fairly similar situation to last year's matchup with Florida, in which they had to rely on younger players. Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley has been sharp this year completing 61.2 percent of his passes for 1986 yards along with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, two of which came against No. 1 Georgia last week. Sophomore Wide receiver Bryan Edwards has stepped up to become the Gamecocks’ No. 1 receiver in Samuel's place. This year, Edwards has recorded 42 receptions for 497 yards and two touchdowns. 

This is a big game for the Gamecocks and Muschamp knows that. 

“I told our football team (that) I wouldn’t get sold on what you saw against Georgia and Missouri," Muschamp said. "At the end of the day, we are going to see a very highly-motivated football team coming in here, and we need to prepare well. And we need to play well on Saturday and give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.” 

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