Friday, October 16, 2009

Gamecocks v Crimson Tide Preview

The 22nd ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks (5-1, 2-1 SEC) hit the road to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face the number 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC).  This game has all the makings of a great SEC match up....ESPN, Saban, defense, Spurrier, Erin Andrews and fans like the one to the left.

Spurrier has faced the Crimson Tide once with South Carolina, a 37-14 home loss on Sept. 17, 2005. Alabama leads the series 11-2, including a 8-1 mark in its home state.

The Gamecocks' only win in Tuscaloosa was 20-3 on Oct. 2, 2004.  But Spurrier is 2-0 versus Saban and will need everything to go "near perfect" to make it 3 wins on Saturday.  I may be alone when I say they have a legitimate shot at beating Alabama but I truly feel that they do.  USC has nothing to lose as most already feel they are going to lose so all they need to do is leave it all on the field come Saturday night.

On the field that night you will see two of the best defenses in the SEC and the country on display.  USC will try its' best to win with a strong defensive showing, which will be lead by USC LB Eric Norwood.    What may be special about this game is not only the Spurrier v Saban issue but on the field you will have two of the best linebackers in the country.  Norwood may lead the SEC with 6 sacks but McClain leads Alabama with 42 tackles, and has 5.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.  Both men are scary like the lady to the left.  Alabama is one of only three SEC teams with more sacks this season (15) than Carolina.  If you like defensive type games I feel this one is going to be right up your alley.

USC Defense v Bama Offense --- South Carolina will face Alabama's 17th-ranked offense (444.7 yards per game) that's 12th in FBS with an average of 37 points. The USC defense, currently ranked 15th in FBS, will need to step it up big like they did vs Ole Miss.  LB Eric Norwood, one of the leading candidates for the Lombardi Trophy and Butkus Award, will have to make an impact Saturday.  Along with him the big area that must play well is the defensive line for Carolina.  Cliff Matthews and gang must play great while getting tons of push against a very good Bama O-Line.  They must shed blocks to close running lanes.  The key for Carolina on defense is limiting Bama's ability to run the ball effectively. 

USC has not allowed an opposing back to rush for 100 yards this season and ranks fifth in the SEC in rushing defense. USC has given up its most rushing yards the past two weeks, allowing S.C. State to run for 170 and Kentucky to go for 205. The Wildcats, who had a pair of backs finish with 89 rushing yards, found ample running room between the tackles.  This can not happen vs the tide or the tide will roll.

Alabama tailback Mark Ingram averages 109.8 rushing yards a game....hikes.   Ingram, a workhorse at 5-10 and 212 pounds, has run an average of 25 times for 156 yards the past two weeks in wins against Kentucky and Mississippi.  The Crimson Tide are outscoring their opponents by an average score of 37-12.5. Alabama averages 43 running plays and 27 passes a game, and it leads the SEC in time of possession at 34:08 a game.  For SC to take control and limit bama success, then South Carolina must tackle better than it has so far this season. Too many ball carriers have been able to shed or bounce off tackles.  Look for Carolina to crowd the box and try to force Bama to throw the ball.  Carolina must make UA QB Greg McElroy (9 TD, 1 INT, 1233 yds, 60.8% completion; Averages 205.5 yds per game) beat them.  With that the USC secondary, without Auguste, will have to be ready to make plays and play smart.  Bama wide outs, Marquis Maze (12 rec for 242 yds, 2 TD),  Colin Peek (17 rec for 192 yds, 1 TD) and  Julio Jones (13 rec for 175 yds, 1 TD) are really good and must be contained.  It is a tall order for Carolina to stop this offense and force a lot of 3 and outs or TOs....will they do it?

USC Offense v Bama Defense --- The Crimson Tide also boast the nation's No. 2 defense (220.5 yards) and are eighth nationally in allowing 12.5 points per game.  To say Carolina has to play perfect is putting it simple.  Garcia must have his coming out party in this game and lead USC to victory.  He must not make mistakes, read the defense, show poise in the pocket and make the necessary throws.  Alabama’s defense has held their opponents to under 100 yards rushing in 17 of their last 20 games.  USC will have to try to make that 17 out of 21.  Kenny Miles and Maddox must fight through tackles and get loose for some big gains.  USC must find success running the ball and loads of pressure is on the Offensive Line of Carolina.  The big boys up front for Bama are nasty and will be the hardest Carolina faces until they play Bama again.  Meaning these boys are good.

Bama is lead by LB Rolando McClain, Mark Barron ( 32 tackles,  17 solo),  Javier Arenas (31 tackles, 22 solo) and Eryk Anders who has 5.5 tackles for losses up front.  This Bama D has forced 13 (4 fumbles, 9 interceptions) turnovers this year and will be looking for more.

Carolina must win this game with ball control, no mistakes, good completions through the air and strong line play.  Spurrier needs Alshon or Gurley to have big games and thank god TE Weslye Saunders, who to me is the key to the offense in this game due to him presenting a mis-match, is back.  Carolina on offense will have to light it up and play smart...can they do both?

Sum it up
My brain is telling me that Bama will win this game by 10 points like 27-17 but my heart is telling me that my team from Columbia is going to shock the world come Saturday night and post a 16-14 win due to the foot of Spencer and great 2nd half play......

Which one to believe?

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1 comment:

The ACC and SEC Blog said...

This could be a classic "trap game" for Bama, but I think USC needs some big breaks to pull it off. I think their defense keeps it close for 3 quarters at least.