COLUMBIA – Call this a doubleheader Saturday for South Carolina football fans.
The Gamecocks are a little more than an hour away from kick off against Florida. During pregame warmups, they made no attempt to avoid what’s happening on the Plains.
As USC players walked the field Saturday night, the Auburn-Georgia game played on the big screen at Williams-Brice Stadium. It’s a huge game for the Gamecocks, arguably as big as their kick off tonight against the Gators. USC needs Auburn to beat Georgia to have any chance of reaching the SEC Championship Game next month in Atlanta.
So far, so good.
Auburn led Georgia 27-7 at halftime. For all USC’s talk this week about not paying attention to that game, players and coaches are aware.
Now, along with hoping Auburn holds on, they have to take advantage by taking care of business against Florida.
The Gators are a team in flux, dealing with several season-ending injuries to key starters. The injuries have devastated their quarterback position, where backup Tyler Murphy is a game-time decision. If Murphy can’t play, third-string quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg will start against USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, tackle Kelcy Quarles and company.
South Carolina will be the first team in 21 years to play Florida when the Gators have a losing record. It also enters tonight’s game with a clean bill of health.
Senior quarterback Connor Shaw will play without a knee brace tonight, a sign he’s healed from his right knee sprain four weeks ago at Tennessee. Against Missouri and Mississippi State, Shaw’s knee limited his ability to run out of the pocket and pick up third downs with his feet.
USC rested several key players during its bye week, including Clowney, running back Mike Davis and cornerback Victor Hampton. Each is expected to be healthy tonight and ready to go.
As always, The Post and Courier will have full coverage from Williams-Brice Stadium. Follow Gamecocks beat writer Ryan Wood on Twitter @rwood_SC and columnist Gene Sapakoff @sapakoff. Also, check PostandCourier.com for full coverage during the game, and make sure to pick up a copy of Sunday’s edition of The Post and Courier.