If there’s a rallying cry this week for this undermanned, underdog South Carolina football team, it’s simply: remember Auburn. The Gamecocks went to the Plains last season as 18-point underdogs, and pushed then-No. 5 Auburn to the brink in a 42-35 loss. Can they hang in there again Saturday, as 17-point underdogs at No. 7 Georgia? Maybe, but this is a very different USC squad that will need some breaks along the way.
Former walk-on Perry Orth makes his first start at quarterback, hoping to carry over the momentum from the near-comeback against Kentucky. Orth is a natural leader who’s easy to believe in, even if he has some physical shortcomings. He has to avoid trying to do things he can’t do — like roll one way, and throw another over the head of a cornerback. For the coaching staff, ensuring the new quarterback plays within his limitations is job No. 1.
But Orth isn’t the only quarterback likely to play. Head coach Steve Spurrier has said backup Lorenzo Nunez and even third-string Michael Scarnecchia may get their shots, opening the possibility to all kinds of player combinations. In the Auburn game last season, Spurrier pulled out all the stops as a play-caller. He may dig back into his box of tricks, rotating quarterbacks and rolling the dice on fourth down to try and keep USC in the game.
Of course, Spurrier could have Johnny Unitas behind center and it won’t matter if USC can’t stop Georgia’s run game. The Gamecocks had their issues in the opener with North Carolina’s Elijah Hood, and slowing Kentucky’s backs in the first half last week. None of those guys is Nick Chubb. USC’s plan seems fairly simple — crash down on the Heisman hopeful, and force inconsistent Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert to beat them.
Is there the potential for an upset here? Absolutely. USC still has a game-changer in Pharoh Cooper. The defense has shut out opponents in the second half. Spurrier has owned Georgia as of late, and is often at his best when the odds are against him. But this also isn’t the kind of team that can match the Bulldogs score-for-score. USC will have to be opportunistic and disciplined, or it could be facing a long night in Athens.
Georgia 31, South Carolina 20