The Alabama Crimson Tide and the South Carolina Gamecocks kick off their SEC play this weekend. Alabama will travel to Columbia and try to avenge their loss to South Carolina from 2010. This was the Tide’s last loss against an SEC East opponent.
With Jake Bentley out for the season, Alabama will be the first real test for freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski. With his first ever SEC opponent coming in Alabama, Hilinski will definitely have to step it up to compete.
Hilinski did prove that he could step up when needed after starting against Charleston Southern, throwing for 282 yards and two touchdowns.
This game gave the Gamecocks a better outlook on the season after losing their season opener 24-20 to North Carolina. However, Hilinski is just a freshman going up against a powerhouse in junior Tua Tagovailoa.
South Carolina has also had the upper hand in recent history. They have won three of the last five games against Alabama.
One of the keys for South Carolina this weekend is to put their experienced wide receivers, Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith, against Alabama’s first-year outside linebackers.
Another key for the Gamecocks is to contain Tagovailoa, which is often easier said than done. South Carolina’s defense will have to show up big time and put pressure on Alabama’s secondary.
South Carolina is also returning its top two running backs and three of its top-four wide receivers from a year ago. The defense has seven returning starters.
No. 2 Alabama
So far, Alabama has destroyed its first two opponents. However, now that they are entering SEC play, things get a bit more interesting. This season, Alabama is averaging 522.5 yards per game while giving up just an average of 233 yards per game.
When it comes to playing former assistants, Nick Saben is no stranger. Saben has even won the last 16 straight games against his former assistants. Will Muschamp was with Saben for four seasons at LSU and one year at the Miami Dolphins.
After losing to South Carolina in 2010, the Crimson Tide haven’t lost to a league opponent by more than 14 points since.
This SEC opener is the first game where Alabama truly gets to show what they are made of. After falling just short of the title last season, the Tide need to show that they are up for the challenge of reclaiming that title this year.