(20) South Carolina (9-4) vs. (23) Florida State (9-4) (+3)
I grew up in the 1990’s, and if I learned anything about Steve Spurrier in that time it’s that he owns the other schools from the state of Florida. I honestly couldn’t tell you what his record against them was or is, but at the same time you always knew he was going to win the chess match against Bobby Bowden.
Things have changed a bit since those days, but this game sure looks like a replay of all those same issues. I respect Jimbo Fisher a great deal, and I think he’s as good a choice as anyone to get Florida State back up to the highest level of college football. At the same time, they’re not there yet, and this South Carolina team is built to take advantage of their exact weaknesses.
USC is going to use Marcus Lattimore until his legs fall off and then they’re going to throw it over the top into FSU’s weak secondary. Mark Stoops has had time to get ready for Spurrier’s offense, but gameplanning isn’t the problem for the Seminole defense. They’re mistake-prone, and this new grind-it-out South Carolina offense always takes advantage of mistakes.
To make it worse for Florida State, Christian Ponder is hurt and even if he plays, he’s not going to be 100%. The only way FSU is going to get it done against South Carolina’s defense is if he plays and is totally on his game. Otherwise, it’s wishful thinking at best to think they’ll be able to move the ball at all.
That said, USC is incapable of blowing anyone with an equal talent level out, and Florida State has that at least. This is pretty much guaranteed to be a close-ish game, but whether Florida State can actually win or not is sketchy at best.
Pick: South Carolina