This is a big weekend for the Southeastern Conference’s East Division race. What happens on Saturday will be crucial in determining which team will be representing that division in the league championship game in December.
The Georgia at South Carolina game is an intriguing matchup. If I had to say one way or the other, I would say that Georgia has more football players than South Carolina, but that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs are going to win in Columbia. South Carolina has weapons, too, and a lot of them are on defense.
Those two defensive ends for the Gamecocks can create some real problems for Georgia because Aaron Murray really doesn’t function as well with pressure from the pass rush.
It will be interesting to see which team has the most success running the football. I think those two freshmen running backs at Georgia offset South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore. It remains to be seen how much improvement Georgia’s defense has made because the Bulldogs have given up way too many points and way too much yardage for a group that returned as many starters and as much talent as this team did.
Georgia’s defense has been kind of maligned with how it has played and with key players on suspension early in the season. The Bulldogs should really be tested this week as they face Connor Shaw, a quarterback who is productive throwing and running the ball.
Connor Shaw leads the Gamecocks' offense.
If Georgia wins it will give the Bulldogs the upper hand in the division because, in my opinion, they will only have to beat Florida in Jacksonville to be in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East. If South Carolina wins on Saturday the Gamecocks still have tough games with road trips to Florida and LSU ahead. South Carolina’s game against Arkansas looked to be a really difficult one in the preseason, but the Razorbacks have struggled.
The other big game for an SEC team this week is taking place in Gainesville where LSU takes on the Gators. This is a big opportunity for Florida because LSU isn’t playing real well right now. Everybody thought LSU would challenge Alabama for the West title, but I don’t see it that way now that we are in October. I don’t think anybody in the West is going to challenge Alabama. If LSU’s quarterback, Zach Mettenberger, had been what they had him built up to be, then maybe, but the way he’s been playing LSU can’t throw the ball well enough to beat Alabama because Alabama will stop LSU’s running game.
I think Florida is going to beat LSU because I think the Gators have a pretty balanced football team. From special teams to defense to offense, the Gators may not be great in any one phase of it, but I think they’re pretty good at all phases of the game.
What the Gators have displayed when they came back in Knoxville and beat Tennessee, and what they showed against Texas A&M, indicates that they have got a little character on their football team down there. I think Florida has played against better competition and is undefeated. I believe they will remain undefeated after taking on LSU this week.
Combine those games with what I think will be an exciting, competitive game when Auburn takes on Arkansas and it should be a fun Saturday to watch SEC football.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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