Since his playing days at Florida in the 1960s, Steve Spurrier has been bitter at Georgia, which denied Spurrier and the Gators a Southeastern Conference title and a coveted trip to the Sugar Bowl during his senior season.
Spurrier has been getting revenge as a coach. Thanks to South Carolina’s wins the past two years, Spurrier owns a 14-5 career coaching record against the Bulldogs.
In an SEC showdown today between 5-0 teams, Spurrier leads the sixth-ranked Gamecocks, 1-point home favorites, against No. 5 Georgia.
South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore has been the catalyst against the Bulldogs the past two years, rushing for a total of 362 yards and three touchdowns.
The Gamecocks are getting excellent quarterback play from Connor Shaw, who has the same number of incompletions (four) as touchdown passes in the past two games. For the season, he has completed 50 of 64 passes (78.1 percent) for 571 yards and five touchdowns, and also has rushed for 203 yards while showing improvement with each start.
Lattimore, Shaw and the South Carolina offense can be impressive, but the main factor driving this play is the Gamecocks defense. Specifically, this could be sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s coming-out party.
In last year’s matchup, Clowney had a sack and a forced fumble on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray that resulted in a scoop and score for Melvin Ingram, completely altering the course of South Carolina’s 45-42 road win. Murray might be pressured into more mistakes by Clowney and defensive end Devin Taylor.
The Gamecocks are 20-13 against the spread as home favorites under Spurrier, and they have won 22 of 26 home games. I’ll support Spurrier as a short favorite.
Three more plays for today (home team in CAPS):
■ CLEMSON (-10) over Georgia Tech – On Sunday I made the Tigers 14-point favorites, and at that time I was thinking star wideout Sammy Watkins was iffy after missing last week’s 45-31 win at Boston College with an abdominal injury. Now that Watkins has been upgraded to probable, the line should be around 15 or 16.
Georgia Tech just got beat by Middle Tennessee 49-28 at home, a week after letting a 17-point fourth-quarter lead get away in a home loss to Miami. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and Watkins should have big performances in a revenge game.
■ PENN STATE (-2½) over Northwestern – The Nittany Lions have covered in four consecutive games, including a 35-7 shellacking of Illinois last week at Champaign. Penn State should be 4-1 if not for its abysmal place-kicker blowing a game at Virginia.
Matt McGloin is playing extremely well with a 10-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio for Penn State, which has won five in a row over the Wildcats.
■ West Virginia (+7) over TEXAS – This line probably should be 4 based on Texas’ home-field advantage, but I would make the Mountaineers favorites on a neutral field. Even though Longhorns quarterback David Ash is hot, West Virginia’s Geno Smith is better by far.
Smith has 20 touchdown passes without an interception, and his dynamic group of wideouts includes Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. The underdog has an excellent shot at winning outright.
Last week: 3-1 against the spread
Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.