PASSING: Matthew Stafford has been a star for Georgia in its first two games, completing more than 63 percent of his passes without an interception. South Carolina has major problems at quarterback. Chris Smelley will likely get the starting nod, but as many as three quarterbacks – including freshman Stephen Garcia – could see the field. EDGE: Georgia.
RUSHING: Georgia has rushed for nearly 500 yards in its first two contests, with Heisman hopeful Knowshon Moreno leading the way. The sophomore is averaging nearly 10 yards per touch and has found the end zone on nearly 25 percent of his carries. Gamecocks tailback Mike Davis is averaging 5.7 yards per carry but has found the end zone just once. EDGE: Georgia.
DEFENSE: In 120 minutes of action, the Bulldogs defense has looked stellar for about 80. The other 40 minutes have been anything but impressive. Georgia was outscored 21-7 in the final 20 minutes of action against Georgia Southern, then allowed Central Michigan to drive into Bulldogs territory on five straight drives midway through last Saturday’s contest. The Gamecocks’ defense is stout – returning 10 starters from last season – but was burned by Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter a week ago. EDGE: South Carolina.
SPECIAL TEAMS: When Georgia kicks off its game against South Carolina, it will be anyone’s guess as to whose foot will actually be booting the ball downfield. Blair Walsh has struggled on kickoffs in two games, and walk-on Jamey Lindley could take over. South Carolina has no such special-teams worries. Kicker Ryan Succop is one of the best in the country at kickoffs, field goals and PATs. EDGE: South Carolina.
ONE TO WATCH: Knowshon Moreno, RB – Georgia. It’s hard not to keep an eye on Moreno – especially when he’s hurdling defenders the way he did a week ago. But his role this week will be even more crucial. Moreno will face a physical front seven from South Carolina, but big runs early could put the Gamecocks’ defense on its heals. EDGE: Georgia.
DAVID HALE’S TAKE: In the seven times these two teams have played since Richt took over as head coach at Georgia, five games have been decided by six points or less. The bottom line is, regardless of the records or talent on the field, these two teams seem to always play close games. One big advantage for the Bulldogs, however, is the lingering memory of last year’s four-point loss that likely prevented Georgia from playing for an SEC title. The extra motivation combined with South Carolina’s offensive woes could mean that, for once, this matchup might not come down to the wire.