South Carolina-Georgia dispatch: Gamecocks prepare, the Cockaboose awaits

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Greetings from South Carolina, where Chick-Fil-As await on nearly every interstate exit.    

As we prepare for a weighty Georgia-South Carolina showdown Saturday night, all is quiet outside of Williams-Brice Stadium.

Players and coaches were unavailable for media interviews the day before the game, but with Steve Spurrier a big running buff, I took to campus to find the nearest treadmill.

Joe Person, who used to cover the Gamecocks for The State and now covers the Panthers for the Charlotte Observer, told me to head to the weight room on the end of the stadium “where the cock cabooses are.”

A sentence like that catches you off guard, even if you already know such a thing exists.

South Carolina players were going through an off-limits walk-through on Friday afternoon. A few alumni walked out of the stadium after catching a glimpse of the action. The stadium was closely guarded by security. A sign outside of the team’s football facility welcomes Gamecocks recruits, of which there promises to be plenty this weekend.

Much of the Gamecocks’ plans will revolve around stopping Georgia’s version of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown -– freshman duo Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who have amassed nearly 1,000 rushing yards combined through five games.

This is the matchup of the game to me, Georgia’s backs against a South Carolina front that has allowed one opponent to rush for more than 60 yards, Missouri’s Kendial Lawrence (67).

Jadeveon Clowney and Co. could be feeling grumpy after hearing all week about how “Gurshall” has had its way.

Georgia’s school-record streak of five consecutive games with at least 40 points will probably end against the Gamecocks, who give up 11.2 per game. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who’s been poised all year, will need to make a few clutch third-down throws when the game grinds down in the second half.

Also interested to see if a talented yet erratic Georgia defense can respond after looking sluggish at times last week against the Volunteers. SC quarterback Connor Shaw’s 78.1 completion percentage coupled with his mobility make him a difficult matchup, but expect Georgia to focus on stopping the run first. Can’t let Marcus Lattimore, who’s averaged 179 yards per game in this series, get to the second level consistently.

FINAL CALL: Georgia 31, South Carolina 24. Nothing against South Carolina, but I think Georgia has something brewing this season and am not ready to pick against the Bulldogs just yet.

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