The battle between Florida and South Carolina pits two programs that are starting to find their identity. Although Shane Beamer is in his second year, he has the Gamecocks moving into the right direction.
As for the Florida Gators, head coach Billy Napier is taking his lumps this year but he is making progress. Victories over Texas A&M, Utah, and even a close loss to Tennessee all had small indications of what Florida will become under Napier.
Key Player: QB Anthony Richardson; Stats: 2,331 yards, 17 TDs, 7 Ints
The Florida Gators will go as far as Richardson takes them in this game. Richardson is very dynamic on the ground and is improving as a passer. There are games where Richardson drops back and throws a dime, while there are other games where he don’t trust his arm.
South Carolina is known for having a tough secondary on defense. The odds are that Richardson will have to be a force on the ground to open up the passing game.
However, if Richardson is held in check, Florida could have a very long day.
Key Player: QB Spencer Rattler ; Stats: 1,858 yards, 10 TDs, 9 Ints.
The former Oklahoma quarterback and projected #1 overall pick, has made a home in South Carolina. A change of pace from the high speed offense of former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.
Although this season hasn’t been great for Rattler, he still has the talent to make a defense pay when he gets on a roll. Again the offense will move based on what he can do. Florida has an opportunistic defense that will cause problems if given the chance.
South Carolina: 24
South Carolina has done a great job of being consistent all season, but I believe Richardson is the ultimate X-Factor for Florida. Richardson has the skills and talent to make something out of nothing in various ways. Richardson accounts for 17 touchdowns this season.
Florida’s defense will do enough to hold Rattler and the South Carolina offense at bay. Again, Florida may not be as consistent as South Carolina, but a dynamic playmaker can be the difference between winning and losing.
Ultimately, this game will go into the 4th quarter close; a place of comfort for Richardson to shine.
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