Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gamecocks v Ole Miss Preview / Prediction

Oh it is big time now.  The No. 4 ranked Ole Miss Rebels make their way to Columbia, South Carolina for a clash of very promising SEC teams.  A win at Williams-Brice Stadium would signal a start to the season that hasn't been seen around the Rebel program in a while.  Ole Miss hasn't started a season with a 3-0 record since 1989 and hasn't won its SEC opener since 2003.  A win for South Carolina is what I like to call a "program changer."  All eyes on this game and with that here is my prediction for this nationally-televised showdown.

Can you say ESPN Classic?  I think this game has all the makings of a classic battle.  I can feel the excitement already.  I already gave you reasons why Ole Miss is on upset alert.  Now my thoughts on the game....

Ole Miss leads the overall series with South Carolina 8-6 and is 4-1 against the Gamecocks since they came into the SEC in 1992, with the only loss coming last year in Oxford. The Rebels are 4-3 at Williams-Brice Stadium.....Throw that out the door as this is SEC football between two highly talented teams.  You got all kinds of story lines floating around from Nutt vs Spurrier, to Snead and Norwood.  What this boils down to is which team will step up and as you look at the USC depth chart you will see a group of men ready to bring a winning tradition to Columbia.

Both teams have loads to prove, for Ole Miss it is proving they deserve such a ranking, the Rebels will also be looking to avenge a home loss to Carolina a year ago.  Since that game, Ole Miss has posted an 8-1 record. South Carolina , on the other hand, has gone 5-5. Amazingly, Carolina is only a 3.5-point underdog.  For USC, it is that "carpe diem" type game.  It is to prove to the world they are ready to take on the big boys in the SEC and Spurrier as a coach still has it.

Spurrier brings in a solid offense lead by Garcia, who has grown up this season as he averages 228 yds per game.  This year Garcia and the offense have options.  They can throw the ball to Saunders at TE, Barnes, LeCron, Brown or Tori G in the WR corp.  They have a multi-headed rushing attack with Maddox, Giles, Miles, Sherman and Baker.  The only weakness in the offensive unit is the line.  They are average and they are to be tested this week like no other.  The Ole Miss D has allowed 10 pts per game and 293 total yds per game.  They have a great Safety in Johnny Brown and a future NFL-er in DE Greg Hardy.  How the USC O-line handles the pressure and creates running lanes is the key for the USC offense.

On Defense for Carolina, it boils down to a battle tested Carolina squad with some key additions returning this week - Ladi Ajijboye, Nathan Pepper, Whitlock - not to mention Eric Norwood and Darian Stewart should be at full speed.  As you know, LOHD has been screaming pleading for a full 60 mins of "killer attitude" football from the USC defense.  I feel this is the week we see it.  As many back-ups for USC have earned some stripes while filling in nicely (see Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram).  This only adds to one of the best defenses going up against a respected Ole Miss Offense.  They have a great QB in Snead.  They have good receivers in McCluster and Hodge, who have 17 catches for 249 yds between them.  USC will have to stop the run and ask for Snead to beat them.  USC has the speed on defense but in this game they must tackle better and shed blocks.  Again the USC defense must play like their heads are on fire and get after it.  Defense wins games and something tells me it will be up to the USC defense to stop Ole Miss.  This can not be a shoot-out like the UGa game.  The SC D must create and put the USC offense in good position.  If the USC defense can disrupt Snead and force him to make bad throws then the game is for the taking.  Watch how the USC D line does at stuffing the run and getting heat on Snead.

The key to this game is how well USC does on 3rd downs as Ole Miss has stopped opponents 26 out of 30 times.  That is the key to this game as it translates into an effective USC offense that is moving the ball.  By doing that they keep the USC defense fresh but most important the Ole Miss Offense off the field.

I beg for improved play from the USC special teams kick team.  Ole Miss can not be blessed with good field position.  This game goes back to the basics of field poistion, tackling and winning the turnover game.  The loser of this will be the loser of the game.  I feel because of this and how USC is "battle tested" and it being a home game I have this feeling USC wins this game.  It will be close but USC will pull this away with timely defensive play in the second half.  I really think USC has a chance to shock Ole Miss and the world.  I would love to see USC blow the doors off the Ole Miss bus tonight but I feel this game might have me a bit uneasy as I watch from section 301.  This is the type game that we can point to in 3 years and say - because of that win.....

With that USC wins this game 27-23.  thoughts?


justin said...

Couldn't have said it any better! This is awesome-Go Cocks!

JR said...

i say 16-10 cocks