Gameday: No. 2 Florida Gators vs. South Carolina

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 80°F, sunny, winds W at 9 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $100 on TiqIQ

TV: CBS/CBSHD (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 2 FLORIDA GATORS No. 7 USC GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 6-0 (5-0 SEC) Record: 6-1 (4-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3.5, O/U 41

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what has been going on with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Florida ignoring the BCS hype | Spurrier discusses the Gators | Brent Pease confident in passing game | Updates from Muschamp and Spurrier

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Florida will be featured on College GameDay for a nation-leading 35th time in school history. The Gators will be hosting the program for the 12th time but first since Nov. 28, 2009. UF has already appeared on College GameDay twice this season (2-0) as the visiting team at Texas A&M and Tennessee. Florida is 7-4 overall as hosts in Gainesville and 23-11 all-time when featured on the program.

» OGGOA’s Q&A with ESPN analyst Desmond Howard
» ESPN: Seven video previews of UF-USC

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida leads South Carolina 23-6-3 in the all-time series and boasts a 12-1-0 advantage in Gainesville with its first and only loss coming in the last meeting (2010). The two teams have played consecutively every year since 1992; the Gators are 17-3 in those games but have lost the last two marking their first time falling in consecutive games to the Gamecocks since the 1930s.
» UF is 4-3 against USC over the last seven years since Spurrier took over.
» Florida is 11-1 against unranked opponents and 2-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011. The Gators earned both victories over ranked opponents this season, defeating Tennessee on the road and LSU at home.
» This is the highest-ranked South Carolina team that Florida has ever faced.
» The Gators have started the season 6-0 for the first time since 2009 and the eighth time overall in school history.
» Florida defeated a ranked opponent at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2008 and beat an SEC West team in Gainesville for the first time since Oct. 17, 2009.
» The Gators were 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have started the 2012 season 3-0 in that category with all three victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» Florida is 9-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 10-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-3 when scoring first and 10-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators have scored on 19-of-20 red zone trips (95 percent) but have only converted 11 of those possessions (55 percent) into touchdowns.
» Florida has converted 32-of-83 of its third-down attempts (38.6 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 26-of-92 on third down conversions (28.3 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is out-possessing opponents by an average of 7:48 through six games, a margin that ranks fourth nationally.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 98-23 in the second half and 57-10 in the fourth quarter. UF was the only team in the nation that had not allowed a fourth-quarter point until giving up 10 last week.
» Florida had a stretch of not allowing a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is sixth in scoring defense nationally (12.3 points per game).
» The Gators are +7 in turnover margin through six games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (329) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed seven interceptions so far in 2012 (three games with two each) and is already closing in on its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in five games.
» The Gators are sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered one in 2012.
» South Carolina is facing its third top-10 opponent in as many weeks.
» Before losing last week, the Gamecocks had a school-record 10-game win streak.
» Spurrier is four wins away from holding sole possession of the school’s all-time wins record for a head football coach.
» South Carolina is the least penalized team in the SEC, losing an average of 34.3 yards per game via penalty.
» The Gamecocks are 12th nationally in total defense (296.3 yards per game).

Read the rest of the Florida-South Carolina preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sidelines.

LAST TIME OUT

After dominating Florida 36-14 last time the two teams played in The Swamp, South Carolina hosted their SEC East rivals in 2011 and squeaked out a victory by limiting a second-half surge from the visitors. The Gamecocks took a 14-3 lead at halftime after quarterback Connor Shaw ran in a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. The Gators started the second half by scoring nine unanswered points; however, Florida was unable to tie the game when a two-point conversion on its sole touchdown of the game was unsuccessful. South Carolina got the ball back midway through the fourth quarter and executed a 48-yard drive that resulted in a field goal to extend its lead to five points. The Gators got a superb effort from Chris Rainey (132 yards on 17 carries) but fell short in the passing game and lost the turnover battle 2-1 as the Gamecocks picked up their second-straight win in the series.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Active (5): Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring, thumb), redshirt senior guard James Wilson (eye), redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (elbow), junior left tackle Xavier Nixon (concussion), junior defensive end Dominique Easley
» Inactive (9): Freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle), junior DB Cody Riggs (foot), redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), junior long snapper Drew Ferris (collarbone), redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan (shoulder), junior Buck LB Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman TE Colin Thompson (foot), redshirt junior DE Kedric Johnson (knee), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee)

* As of Saturday at 3 p.m.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior running back Mike Gillislee (#23)…who is entrenched as the Gators’ starter, a role he has worked towards achieving over four years. He registered a career-high 34 carries for 146 rushing yards two week ago and has averaged 5.1 yards per carry and more than a touchdown per game this season. Gillislee has totaled 615 yards on 120 carries with seven scores, and his 102.5 yards per game is second in the SEC.
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (#6)…who was officially named the starter in week two and has shown remarkable improvement with each passing game. He has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (74-of-111) this season for 836 yards, four touchdowns and one interception and has added 326 net rushing yards as well as four touchdowns on the ground.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who is leading the Gators in receptions (21) and receiving yards (237) through six games. His 21 catches are most at his position in the SEC. Reed became a full-time tight end in 2011 but missed four games that season due to injury. He has the ability to be a major receiving threat and big-time mismatch for Florida offensively.
» Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic (#1)…who is the straw that stirs the drink for the Gators on defense. He is second on the team in solo tackles (22) and total tackles (33) but comes in first on the team in tackles for loss (six) and quarterback sacks (three).
» Junior defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd (#94)…who is back to playing his natural positions and are looking to breakout as a former five-star prospect that joined the team in 2009. Floyd has registered four tackles for loss (out of 22 total tackles) and three quarterback hurries this season. He looks to be improving with each passing game.
» Junior safety Matt Elam (#22)…who has grown into his role as a leader and is undoubtedly the Gators’ most dynamic playmaker on defense. He has 133 career tackles (89 solo, 14.0 for loss) along with four sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and three interceptions already in his career. Elam had arguably his best game at Florida two weeks ago vs. LSU (seven solo tackles, forced fumble).
» Senior S Josh Evans (#9)…who matured and improved as a junior but has taken yet another step in 2012. Evans leads the Gators with 37 total tackles and 23 solo tackles and has also registered a devastating sack this season. He is a nose for the ball carrier and is one reason why Florida’s tackling is much-improved.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (#19)…who is starting for Florida for the fourth-straight season. He was one of three kickers nationally to convert three or more field goals of 50+ yards in 2011 and was named as a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for a top-notch campaign that included him going 22-for-26 on field goals and a perfect 31-for-31 on extra points. Sturgis, who has already kicked three of the four longest field goals of all-time for the Gators, is just 11 made field goals away from passing Jeff Chandler’s 67 for most in school history.

SOUTH CAROLINA
» Junior RB Marcus Lattimore (#21)…who rushed a career-high 40 times for a career-high 212 yards last time he played in The Swamp. The most productive player on the Gamecocks’ offense, Lattimore already has 10 touchdowns (fourth-most in the nation) and has set school records for touchdowns (40) and rushing scores (37).
» QB Connor Shaw (#14)…who is 13-2 as a starter at South Carolina, which ranks as the best record for any starting signal caller through the first 15 games of his career. He is completing 69.4 percent of his passes and has amassed nine touchdowns with his arm but has also thrown four interceptions. Like Driskel, Shaw has also found success with his legs as he has racked up 280 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
» Junior WR Ace Saunders (#1)…who can make plays for the Gamecocks on both offense and special teams. In addition to being second on the team in receptions (17), Saunders is also registering 17.4 yards per punt return, which is second-best in the SEC.
» Sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (#7)…who has already compiled 6.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season and is widely considered to be one of the best players in college football. Clowney would be a first-round pick if he was able to leave school after this season but will instead terrorize the SEC for yet another season.
» Senior LB Shaq Wilson (#54)…who, like Bostic for Florida, is the leader of South Carolina’s defense. He leads the Gamecocks with 44 tackles (he registered a career-high 14 last week) and also has two interceptions on the season.

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