SEC East Race Runs Through Athens
We’re barely 48 hours into the college football season, but one thing has already been settled. The SEC East race will run through Athens, Georgia. Two days removed from an opening night debacle that saw South Carolina dominated, embarrassed and run off its own field, the Georgia Bulldogs withstood a first half slugfest with Clemson – a squad that handed UGA a 38-35 upset in Clemson a year ago – to literally run away in 45-21 victory in Athens.
Whereas South Carolina’s porous defense allowed 99 plays to Texas A&M, 650 total yards of offense, 500 of which came through the air with 3 TD’s to then unknown signall-caller Kenny Hill in a 52-28 rout, Georgia was the one doling out the punishment in their opener against Clemson. The Tigers stood tall with the Dawgs at 21-21 at the half, but Todd Gurley put UGA on his back – 15 rushes, 198 yards on the ground, 3 TD’s and a kickoff return for a TD, as well. Georgia rolled in a 45-21 victory.
Will one loss determine a season, especially in the opening week of the season? Of course not, but South Carolina now has zero margin for error moving forward. Road games in the SEC at Auburn and Florida later in the year will certainly be trouble and next week’s game with ECU now looks like it could be a shootout unless that defense learns to not allow WR’s to roam free, but it’s another home game in two weeks at Williams Brice Stadium that now means everything to the Gamecocks. When USC welcomes UGA into Columbia in two weeks, a loss is no longer an acceptable outcome. A 1-2 start with an 0-2 start in SEC play is a hurdle that I think will be too much to overcome, especially when one of those losses will be head-to-head with Georgia, a team that now looks primed for another run at the SEC East crown with a tweaked defense under new DC Jeremy Pruitt.
South Carolina has won 11-games in three-straight seasons and seemed ready to make the jump into national title contention. If the Gamecocks don’t tighten things up in the next few weeks, the Gamecocks would be fortunate to win 9 or 10 games. The Cocks better take care of business against the Bulldogs or that SEC East race will be running through Athens, not Columbia.