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College Football expert Matt Hayes previews Saturday's clash between Georgia and South Carolina - what are the best value plays for the game?

Georgia vs. South Carolina Prediction and Game Preview

Georgia Bulldogs vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

Point Spread: Georgia -30.5

Total: 48.5

Game Time: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Sanford Stadium. Athens, GA

TV Network: ESPN

Georgia vs. South Carolina Prediction

Georgia vs. South Carolina Odds

Out Of The Tunnel:

Let me take you back two seasons to a time when Georgia was among the nation's elite with an experienced quarterback and elite defense. Then they lost at home to vastly inferior South Carolina.That Gamecocks team in 2019 won four games and played a freshman quarterback who had no business being on the field. This South Carolina team isn't nearly as talented and has a quarterback who was a graduate assistant coach before fall camp began and was forced into duty because of injuries (yep, he still had NCAA eligibility).

The 2019 South Carolina defense had NFL players sprinkled throughout the lineup. Unfortunately, this year's defense doesn't impact players and has given up 17 points in wins over Eastern Illinois and East Carolina. Ladies and gentlemen, Georgia isn't Eastern Illinois and ECU. Heck, the Dawgs aren't those two with backup Quarterback Stetson Bennett running the offense. Bennett threw 5 Touchdowns in the first half of last week's rout of UAB and could play again this week if starter JT Daniels isn't fully recovered from an oblique injury.

When South Carolina Has The Ball:

The idea of what the offense could be before the start of fall camp already was an iffy prospect. Luke Doty was the team's quarterback, and there were still plenty of questions as to how a heralded high school career would translate to the college game before he sustained a foot injury in fall camp.

Then South Carolina turned to grad assistant Zeb Noland to run an offense short on elite skill players and long on inexperience. Noland was the good soldier at North Dakota State, patiently waiting his turn to play at the elite of FCS before eventually starting in the Covid-shortened season. He decided to skip his final year of eligibility to begin a coaching career and joined the South Carolina staff. However, shortly after camp began, the idea of him playing, not coaching in the SEC, came to focus.

Even if Doty is healthy and ready to play this weekend, South Carolina coach Shane Beamer says Doty will play when he's 100 percent and that he expects Doty to be. However, the increase in output at the position may not be significant enough to press a Georgia defense that has given up 10 points in two games (including 3 to Clemson).

Whoever plays quarterback, he'll need a consistent running game (Running Backs ZaQuandre White and Juju McDowell) to slow the Georgia defense. If South Carolina becomes one-dimensional, pass protection will become a critical problem.

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When Georgia Has The Ball:

You don't want to rush an oblique injury (strain to the abdominal wall). Unfortunately, something small can turn into something big, and the next thing you know, the quarterback who has the talent to win a national title (JT Daniels) has a core injury (tear in the abdominal wall) and is out for the season. Georgia can win the next two games (South Carolina, at Vanderbilt) with Bennett but will need Daniels against suddenly surging Arkansas on Oct. 2.

Georgia has found (another) tight end in the first two weeks of the season, with freshman Brock Bowers leading the team in catches. Injuries have depleted the wide receiver corps, but sophomore deep threat Jermaine Burton is growing into the No.1 role. Freshmen Arian Smith and Adonai Mitchell have also played well when given the opportunity.

The Dawgs want to run with Running Backs Zamir White, James Cook, and Kendall Milton and throw off play-action with Daniels out. The offense isn't as pass-heavy with Bennett and shouldn't need to be.Bennett had 5 Touchdowns against UAB because of situational coverage and good throws to wide-open receivers. However, the coverage will be better this week.     

The Bottom Line:

Don't expect Georgia coach Kirby Smart to take chances with Daniels' oblique injury, which occurred during a fall scrimmage and was the reason Daniels didn't drive the ball downfield in the Clemson game.The goal is to get Daniels healthy while winning games, and the schedule sets up for it. Daniels could miss this game and still get plenty of reps during Vanderbilt week to set up a big home game against Arkansas.Bennett's big game last week against UAB was a boost of confidence for a player whose previous start (vs. Florida, 2020) ended with uneven play and a shoulder injury and opened the door for Daniels.No matter who plays, the Dawgs will roll.

Georgia vs. South Carolina Prediction and Pick

Prediction: Georgia, 38-7

Pick: Georgia -30.5 (-110)


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