Florida athletics

Fresh off its first loss of the season, No. 9 Florida will travel to face a team that recently shocked the college football world.

The Gators will be in Columbia on Saturday to take on South Carolina. The Gamecocks stunned then No. 3 Georgia in Athens last week by a 20-17 score in overtime. Florida was unable to get a timely stop in a 42-28 loss at LSU.

The Gators rallied from 17 points down to beat South Carolina 35-31 last year, but fewer points are expected this time around. Quarterback Kyle Trask will be looking for his first road win as a starter. Trask seems to have breathed life into the Florida offense since taking over for the injured Feleipe Franks.

Senior Lamical Perine is the feature back for Florida and leads the team with six total touchdowns. The strength for the Gators’ offense however, may be at the pass-catching positions. Tight end Kyle Pitts leads Florida with 30 catches and 361 yards receiving. Pitts, Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain all have three touchdown grabs on the season and all have more than 300 yards receiving.

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The South Carolina defense isn’t great statistically, but has been much better in that last two weeks. At linebacker Ernest Jones leads Gamecocks with 50 tackles and D.J. Wonnum has a team-high 3.5 sacks. South Carolina ranks third in the SEC with eight interceptions with four of those belonging to 6-foot-4 safety Israel Mukuamu, who also a touchdown.

On offense, Ryan Hilinski and Dakereon Joyner will both likely see time under center for South Carolina in place of the injured Jake Bentley. Rico Dowdle is the leading rusher and Bryan Edwards is the leading receiver. Both have four touchdowns this season. Clemson transfer Tavien Feaster has also been an asset for the Gamecocks out of the backfield.

The Florida defense had not allowed more than 21 points in any game before last week against LSU. Still, the Gators rank third in the SEC in total defense, second in scoring defense and in the top 20 nationally in both categories. On the edge, Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard are a nasty duo, but the two are question marks for Saturday’s contest.

Senior linebacker David Reese is the SEC’s leading tackler with 53 stops. C.J. Henderson, a junior cornerback, is one of the best cover men in the country. Safety Shawn Davis leads Florida with three interceptions and the nation in interception return yards.

Florida won last season, but South Carolina has won five of the last nine in the series and three of the last four at Williams-Brice Stadium. Saturday’s contest begins at noon ET and airs on ESPN.

Prediction: Florida 27, South Carolina 17

Other Games Across the State

College Football

Marshall (3-3) at Florida Atlantic (4-2)
Friday, Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Since getting blasted by Ohio State and UCF, Florida Atlantic has won four straight. Quarterback Chris Robison has looked like the best passer in Conference USA during that stretch.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 34, Marshall 20

Georgia Tech (1-5) at Miami (3-3)
Saturday, Oct 19 at 12 p.m. ET (ACC Network)

The insertion of N’Kosi Pery back into the starting lineup seems to have reinvigorated Miami. The Hurricanes are coming off a big win over a ranked Virginia team and will be hosting a Georgia Tech team on Saturday that may be the worst in the ACC.
Prediction: Miami 31, Georgia Tech 12

South Florida (3-3) at Navy (4-1)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Don’t look now, but South Florida has won consecutive games and three of four. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they have one of the worst rush defenses in the American Athletic Conference.
Prediction: Navy 38, South Florida 24

East Carolina (3-3) at UCF (4-2)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

The 2019 season hasn’t gone the way that UCF has hoped so far, but the Knights are still AAC contenders. They’ll probably need to run the regular season table for it to happen.
Prediction: UCF 45, East Carolina 20

UTEP (1-4) at Florida International (3-3)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Butch Davis’ Florida International team has won consecutive games by a combined 92-23 margin. The Golden Panthers will be hosting a UTEP team without a win over an FBS school.
Prediction: Florida International 52, UTEP 24

Florida State (3-3) at Wake Forest (5-1)
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET

It’s unclear whether Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman will be ready to go Saturday night for a key contest against Florida State. The Seminoles have won seven straight in the series.
Prediction: Wake Forest 34, Florida State 31

NFL

Miami Dolphins (0-5) at Buffalo Bills (4-1)
Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to the starting lineup for the Miami Dolphins after a heartbreaking loss to the Washington Redskins. The Buffalo Bills rank in the top 5 in the NFL in both total and scoring defense.
Prediction: Buffalo 27, Miami 10

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-6)
Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Jacksonville Jaguars will play the first game of the post-Jalen Ramsey era against the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Four of Cincinnati’s six losses have come by six points or less.
Prediction: Jacksonville 20, Cincinnati 17

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.