No. 1 Georgia begins SEC-play in the 2022 season with a trip to Columbia to take on division foe South Carolina. Coverage begins on ESPN 98.1 FM 850 AM WRUF at 11:30 a.m. with television coverage beginning on ESPN at noon. The Bulldogs are favored by 24.5 points, according to ESPN’s PickCenter.
The Bulldogs have won the last two games in the series and six of the last seven. South Carolina’s lone win during that time came in 2019 with a 20-17 double-overtime upset over then-No. 3 Georgia.
Georgia back on top
After beginning the season at No. 3 in the AP Poll, the reigning national champions have done nothing but rise over the last two weeks. After a dominating 49-3 win over then-No. 11 Oregon, Georgia rose to No. 2 in the AP Poll, passing Ohio State.
From there, the dominance continued with a 33-0 win over Samford. With then-No. 1 Alabama struggling against unranked Texas, the Bulldogs’ leaped the Crimson Tide in the most recent poll.
Despite being ranked No. 1, head coach Kirby Smart understands the challenge of playing South Carolina on the road.
Furthermore, Smart says despite coming off of a championship and the hype this season, it’s hard to judge confidence because it’s a new team. In fact, he doesn’t believe the team has discovered their true identity yet.
Leading the Bulldog offense is quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, who has shot up in the Heisman odds following two impressive games. Through two games, Bennett IV has thrown for 668 yards and three touchdowns while adding two more scores on the ground. Bennett IV’s yardage ranks second in the league.
Smart says that Bennett IV’s experience has grown his confidence and maturity, leading to his early success.
Additionally, Smart said two players are listed as “doubtful” heading into Week 3 and another who may not make the trip. Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell is currently getting treatment for an ankle injury suffered against Samford. Mitchell caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown against Oregon.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) September 3, 2022
Reserve defensive back Nyland Green did not play against Samford due to a hamstring injury and hasn’t practiced this week. Finally, defensive back William Poole is dealing with a “personal issue” and may not make the trip, Smart said.
With a win on Saturday, Georgia moves to 3-0 and will have won their last eight SEC-openers.
South Carolina looking to get back on track
The Gamecocks dropped their SEC opener last Saturday to No. 10 Arkansas 44-30 after starting the season 1-0.
With a win on Saturday, the Gamecocks will have upset a top-five Georgia team twice in four years. Additionally, a win would give South Carolina their second all-time win over a No. 1 ranked team. Their first was in 2010 against No. 1 Alabama, when Smart was the defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide.
Beamer coached the cornerbacks and special teams for Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks that season. With that experience, he understands the importance and difficulty of playing a team like Georgia.
South Carolina is breaking in a new quarterback this season with former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler transferring in. Despite some of growing pains, Beamer is impressed with Rattler’s abilities and what he brings to the offense.
Despite the loss to Arkansas, Beamer believes Rattler played much better in Week 2 than he did in Week 1. However, he understands that it will take time for Rattler to bloom in their offense due to him being a transfer.
Through two games, Rattler has thrown for 603 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. His passing yardage ranks third in the SEC behind Bennett IV.
On the other sideline, Beamer is very familiar with Bennett IV. Beamer coached Georgia’s tight ends and special teams from 2016-2017, when Bennett IV was the scout-team quarterback. Overall, the Georgia quarterback really impressed Beamer with his play this season.
A win on Saturday would give the Gamecocks their first SEC win of the season and first over a ranked opponent since 2020.