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September 27, 2013

Gamecock Sports: Gameday Prediction - Gamecocks vs. UCF

Can the Gamecocks Derail the Knights Undefeated Season?
Coming off the Gamecocks' first bye week this season, it appears that everyone will be healthy for the game this weekend against the University of Central Florida Knights in Orlando. This will be the second road test for Carolina in a loud stadium full of fans that are excited about the potential of their team. The Knights are expected to win every game on their schedule this year except for this weekend, so they are looking for the big upset to set themselves up to achieve the perfect season.

Led by former Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary in his 10th year at Central Florida, the Knights had their first signature win of the season over Penn State two weeks ago at Penn State. To open the season they also beat an Akron team 38-7, a team who had just almost beat Michigan. The perfect way to really make the excitement explode around this football team would be to beat a team like South Carolina, at home, in front of their fans, which would set them up for stardom for the rest of the year.

In their first three games this season, the Knights are averaging over 450 yards a game. Along with the huge offensive output, led by quarterback Blake Bortles, this team is also extremely disciplined as they have only compiled 3 penalties all year and only 3 fumbles, none of which has been lost. With this discipline, the Knights will force the Gamecocks to stop them and not hurt themselves. Due to the defensive issues the Gamecocks have had, this could spell riches for the Knights offense that averages over 36 points per game.

The bye week coming into this game will be a huge help to the Gamecocks, who have been a little beaten up with the injury bug this season so far. It appears that the defense will be back up to full speed this weekend and well conditioned for the expected high temperatures in Orlando. In Carolina’s last game, the defense played much better than they did against Georgia, but there is still room for improvement in the secondary. With the balanced attack that the Knights will throw at them this weekend, the Gamecocks must be able to stop the run without giving up the long ball. Central Florida has the potential to put big numbers on the board, so the defense must be prepared for the big play potential.

Carolina’s offense looked great for most of the game two weeks ago, but they must find a way to be more consistent throughout. As we have seen so far this year, the Gamecocks offense can be extremely explosive, but it can also be completely shutdown at the drop of a hat. Consistency will be the key moving forward into the middle of our SEC slate in the coming weeks. That being said, with both Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds healthy and strong, they have potential to be the 1-2 punch that the Gamecocks need to pound the ball on every play.

This week's rankings of the SEC quarterbacks was released by an ESPN blogger and he listed Connor Shaw as number 7. I was appalled upon reading this number, so I did a little more research, because despite not being Shaw’s biggest fan I still think he is a great quarterback and leader for this team. My further investigation revealed that the blogger agreed that Connor is a great quarterback, but that because he has such a capable replacement in Dylan Thompson he is not so valuable to his team. This is what caused him to slip down the list all the way to 7. As a Carolina girl, this made me step back and be thankful for what a perfect storm we currently have on our team -- two top tier quarterbacks and two top tier running backs. That’s not to mention the best offensive line the Gamecocks have had in years, and a guy by the name of Jadeveon Clowney that you may or may not have heard about a few times!

This game is going to be a shootout. High scoring on both sides, but I think it will come down to a late defensive stop by the Gamecocks. Despite their inexperience, the linebackers will play strong this week against a smaller UCF front and not allow their running backs to break through the second level.

Final Score: South Carolina 42, UCF 30

Post written by Gamecock Girl Sports Bloggess, Lauren Rippy.

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