COLUMBIA, S.C. (CBSMiami) – The Florida Gators will fight for their proverbial bowl lives Saturday when they travel to South Carolina to face the 11th ranked Gamecocks.
A loss by Florida will all but eliminate the Gators from postseason play. If Florida loses, the Gators would have to beat second-ranked Florida State in the season finale to just qualify for a bowl.
South Carolina is looking to keep its shot at the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta intact. Thanks to a victory over Missouri a few weeks ago, the Gamecocks can clinch a title game berth with another loss by Missouri and Georgia.
On the flip side, if South Carolina loses to Florida; Missouri would likely clench the SEC East division with a win against Ole Miss.
The key matchup to watch will be Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw against Florida’s injury-riddled defense. Shaw has thrown 18 touchdowns to just one interception and is the team’s second-leading rusher with 484 yards and three touchdowns.
Shaw almost singled-handedly brought South Carolina back from a 17-0 deficit in the fourth quarter against Missouri. Shaw hasn’t faced a run defense as good as Florida’s, which leads the SEC in overall defense and pass defense and is second in rush defense.
Shaw is 23-5 as South Carolina’s starting quarterback, one victory away from tying Todd Ellis for the school’s wins record.
Beyond Shaw, the Gators will have to try to do what almost no defense outside of Missouri has been able to do, slow down running back Mike Davis. The senior running back leads the SEC in rushing with 1,058 yards and has set his sights on Marcus Lattimore’s 1,149 yards gained in 2010.
On a separate note, the last time the Gators missed a bowl game was South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier’s first season at UF. That season, the Gators were ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Gamecocks have won 15 straight games at home, but Florida has won 19 of the last 22 games with South Carolina. All the Gamecock wins in that time have come with Spurrier as coach.
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