Everybody is in love with South Carolina these days and what is not to get pumped up about?
They dominated a Georgia Bulldogs squad that I thought would be competing for a BCS title, but the life of an SEC is way too crazy. One loss can knock you out of BCS and SEC champions to perhaps a second or third place finish in your own division.
‘The SEC East will be better than the West’ was my bold prediction back in the preseason and right now it may not even be comparable with three of the best teams on the planet playing in the East (SC, UF, UGA).
LSU is crumbling a bit in the West whereas Alabama still looks like the best team in the country (M-State is 5-0 too).
How could Les Miles and these poor Bayou Bengals stand a chance against a Gamecocks team that is riding all the momentum right now.
Two words: Death Valley!
A night game in Death Valley and being able to hear yourself think as an opposing player is similar to speaking and or understanding a language you are clueless about.
Not only is it a culture shock to walk in at Death Valley (Williams-Brice Stadium is devastating too, just ask UGA), and this will once again come down to the defenses.
Plus, remember last year that Georgia lost to South Carolina and still ended up winning the East. SC in consecutive weeks has to go to ‘Death Valley’ and the ‘Swamp’ which is absolutely abysmal. The road is beyond tough and we will soon find out whether or not the Gamecocks are the best team on the planet.
LSU could not slow down Mike Gillislee and a physical yet dominant Gators offensive line. Florida may be running the ball better than any team out there, but South Carolina cannot be far behind.
Marcus Lattimore is still the best back in the nation, and the improvement from Connor Shaw has been sensational.
Shaw is one of the elite duel-threats in the country, and every opposing defense breaks down when he takes off running. Shaw has the ability to find Ace Sanders and Justice Cunningham at will when the pocket collapses (which doesn’t happen very often).
The SC offensive line is legit and we will find out if they are indeed a top-five unit when they take on one of the finest defensive lines in college football.
Sam “Sonic The Hedgehog” Montgomery and KeKe Mingo are absolute freaks that can haunt opposing offensive coordinators in their dreams. Their makeup and closing speed are borderline bananas, and they have a few linebackers playing behind them that are tough, gritty ball hawks (Kevin Minter, Lamin Barrow).
While the secondary of LSU was not tested much against the Gators run-oriented offense, they will need to do a better job at coming up and making the big (yet disciplined) hit against Lattimore and Shaw.
Loading the box up with eight and nine men fronts will be the key to avoid third down and shorts because South Carolina is as good as it gets on those short conversions.
There is no team that will slow down Lattimore on those 3rd-and three yards or fewer, which LSU better win on first down.
Slowing down the running game will also give Zach Mettenberger and this offense a solid field position, which is something they were owned by the Gators.
Brad Wing is still considered by many as the nation’s best punter and his ability to flip a field when he puts a boot into can be devastating.
South Carolina does have the nation’s best returner in Ace Sanders (15th in yard per punt return but dude is surreal), but the Bayou Bengals will avoid coming out flat in this one.
Playing at night under Les Miles is a treat to watch, and the likes of Odell Beckham is overdue to come up with a few home run passes.
A balanced attack with Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware will be just enough against one of the best defenses in the country (Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor..…your simply the best right now).
This will simply be a heavyweight defensive slobber knocker that will be entertaining, so one better not miss it!
Time: 8 p.m. Eastern
Experts Pick: LSU by 2.5
Danny V’s Pick: LSU 22, South Carolina 17