Monday, September 8, 2014

Williams-Brice, trending

When looking at trends in this series it's hard to see past this one:
Scoring in Columbia has not been easy for Georgia, something Richt already has brought up to his team.
That's an understatement. Since Spurrier took over for South Carolina in 2005, Georgia has not scored more than 14 points in a game at Williams-Brice. During that four game stretch the Dawgs are 2-2 and averaging just 11.25 points in Columbia. Compare that to the 30.6 points scored in Athens and it speaks volumes to the home field advantage the Gamecocks enjoy. Not to mention the fact that before they lost to Texas A&M in the opener they had won their last 18 home games.

It's rare for South Carolina to enter into this game with a loss - at least it is while in the Spurrier era. Their season openers tend to be against either a conference opponent on Thursday night or a team such as NC State or ECU before renewing the rivalry with Georgia in week two or three. The exception of course was two years ago when the teams met in early October instead, but overall, since 2005, the Gamecocks are a combined 13-1 entering this game; Georgia is 11-3.
Reshad Jones saves the day in 2008. (via John Curry, ABH)

So the only time South Carolina has come into this game without an undefeated record in recent years was 2008. Similar to this season, the loss was to a conference foe. Vanderbilt edged Spurrier's Gamecocks out in Nashville 24-17 the week after USC had obliterated NC State 34-0. Meanwhile, #2 Georgia came into Columbia that season undefeated at 2-0 having dispensed of Georgia Southern and Central Michigan by wide margins. Georgia won 14-7 when Reshad Jones intercepted Chris Smelley with seconds remaining and the Gamecocks threatening inside the Bulldogs' ten yard line.

In some ways, this year feels like the 2008 version of this series between these two teams. Georgia is highly ranked while South Carolina is caught somewhere between feeling sorry for itself and feeling cautiously optimistic. That game six years ago was one that either team could've easily won. It was a game where the Dawgs may not have lived up to their national billing, but found a way to make the plays that mattered. It was a game where the home field played its part in giving the Gamecocks a clear advantage.

If recent history tells us anything, Saturday afternoon at Williams-Brice could prove to be yet another difficult afternoon for Georgia to move the ball and score points. Who will make the plays to tilt the contest in his team's favor? And what jersey color will he be wearing?


Bonus: Corbindawg looks at the series in Columbia dating back to 2000 and how the offense did, or did not, score.