There may not be anything more important this weekend in Georgia and South Carolina than what’s fixin’ to take place Saturday in Columbia.
When the Gamecocks and Bulldogs square off in Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m. (ESPN) in the biggest SEC football matchup of the season.
- Wanna talk some smack on the big game? Let fly in the comments below.
It may be the biggest game in series history. Both are 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the SEC. Both have national championship aspirations. And both have rabid fan bases that are not afraid to talk a little trash.
Patch, which has 59 websites serving local communities in the two states, decided it wants to weigh in on the big game.
Patch staffers Chris Winston of South Carolina and Steve Burns of Georgia offer up their own trash talk on the rivalry and the big game, and ask you to join the fun.
Athens vs. Columbia
Burns: Athens is a better football town than Columbia. Sanford Stadium has been a college football icon since 1929, something those in Columbia can only dream of saying. Yale helped dedicate the stadium Prince Charles even has visited "Between The Hedges." Williams-Brice Stadium can't compare.
Winston: Hey, we have hedges, too. The friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia have always been a 12th man for the Gamecocks. But under coach Steve Spurrier, the home cooking has gotten even better. The Gamecocks are 23-3 in their last 26 home games. There will definitely be Georgia fans there on Saturday, but Billy Brice will be ROCKING with Gamecocks.
Burns: Georgia has a better football tradition than South Carolina. Go ahead. Google the phrases "South Carolina" and "national championships" and what do you get? You know the answer to that one. Georgia could claim as many as five national titles, but we're OK referencing the national champion team of 1980: Herschel Walker, Vince Dooley, Frank Sinkwich. Much more glorious.
Winston: When both teams are good, USC's better. Even though Georgia has dominated the series, it's mostly because the Gamecocks have a horribly mediocre history. When USC has been good too, the series has gone the Gamecocks way. Seven times the teams have met when both were ranked. South Carolina has won four of them, including three of the last four, dating back to 1987.
The Head Ball Coach
Winston: The HBC owns Georgia. The series, dating back to 1894, has been dominated by Georgia (46-16-2). But the Head Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier) has had the Bulldogs' number, winning 14 of his 19 contests against UGA. Mark Richt appears to be off the hot seat, for now, but Spurrier knows just how to put him right back on it.
Burns: Steve Spurrier is not the HBC of old. The Carolina Gamecocks are not the Florida Gators. History shows that Georgia has won four of seven since Spurrier took over in 2005. Spurrier could win his 250th game all-time (pro and college) this weekend. But he won't.
Winston: No one is hotter. South Carolina has won nine straight games for just the second time in school history (1984). Only TCU has a longer winning streak in the country right now. The Cocks are on a roll, and they don't plan to stop rolling for some yippie dogs from Athens. A 10th straight win would be a school record. Don't let the players fool you: It's important to them.
Burns: The new UGA smells a national title in 2012. After turning the program around, the defending SEC East champs have learned to win when it counts.
The Running Backs
Winston: Here comes No. 21. Junior running back Marcus Lattimore has been a beast for South Carolina in his two games against the Bulldogs. He has rushed for 358 yards (179.8 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns in his first two seasons. Georgia's giving up almost 150 yards per game on the ground this year. The Bulldogs can't stop Marcus. They could hurt themselves trying.
Burns: Our young'uns are young guns. The nicknames of the Bulldogs fab freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall — "Gurshall" — may sound sweet, but ask the Vols about this duo. They combined for 294 yards and five TDs last week. Gurley leads the SEC in rushing (107 ypg) and scoring (12 ppg). Marcus Lattimore does not.
Burns: Aaron Murray of UGA is the better QB. Murray is No. 3 in the SEC in passing (275 ypg, 12 TDs) and is having his best season as a Bulldog. Carolina does not have a player in the top 10. Murray is legit and Carolina knows it.
Winston: Have You Seen Jadeveon Clowney? You will. And so will Aaron Murray. A lot. The sophomore has 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in his Gamecock career -- of 18 games. Another 2.5 sacks would put him in the top 5 in USC history. He may get those on Saturday -- maybe in the first half.
Handling the "Bigness" of the Game
Winston: ESPN Gameday means magic. The last time ESPN featured a South Carolina game on its Gameday program was 2010, when the Gamecocks shocked No. 1 Alabama at home. After losing its first three Gameday games, the Gamecocks are ready to make it a streak.
Burns: Home Away from Home? Georgia wins regularly in Columbia. The Bulldogs have won four of the last five at Carolina, with only 2010 being an exception.
Who Has the Better D?
Burns: Georgia's D will force crucial turnovers. The Bulldogs know how to take the ball away. Georgia forced a key TO last week vs. Tennessee in the final minutes to secure the win. And remember George Rogers' fumble in 1980, Carolina?
Winston: Have you seen the rest of the USC defense? Clowney's not the only one who should be giving Murray nightmares. DeVonte Holleman and Devin Taylor are two other huge reasons that Gamecocks are allowing just 11 points per game this year. Georgia's high-powered offense will have trouble getting it going against THIS defense.
Burns: Georgia has played a tougher schedule so far in 2012. Common opponents aside, Tennessee (beaten by Georgia) is better than Kentucky (beaten by Carolina).
Winston: A little luck never hurt. When the USC-UGA game got moved to the middle of the season, Spurrier lamented that he enjoyed playing the Bulldogs early, because they usually had a top player suspended. But the Gamecocks caught a break anyway, with wide receiver Michael Bennett's ACL injury. Now the Gamecocks can focus its attention on shutting receiver Marlon Brown down, allowing them to put more effort on stopping the run.
Winston: Two words - The Visor. Just when the Gamecocks should be under the biggest pressure of their young lives (facing three top-10 teams in next month), Spurrier knows how to take the pressure off: By picking a fight with a local newspaper columnist.
Burns: Winning is a habit for Georgia. The Bulldogs have won 15 straight regular season games, the second longest streak in the nation (behind LSU, 18). And, by the way, our coach Mark Richt lets play on the field do the talking — not press-conference antics. He's 111-38 as Georgia's coach. Spurrier is 60-35 in Columbia.