Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss who will come out on top in the SEC matchups LSU-Florida and Georgia-South Carolina. Join the conversation by voting in the polls and leaving a comment of your own.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
A lot of people, including myself, stopped paying attention to Florida because of the way the Gators played (horribly) in their opener against Bowling Green. But the Gators have now settled in on a quarterback, Jeff Driskel, and the win at Texas A&M; looks better by the week. The Gators crushed the same Kentucky team that led South Carolina at the half. A home win over a struggling LSU team this weekend puts Florida in the top five on a fast track toward a possible title bid. So Florida, for sure, has the most upside and seems to catch LSU at the right time.
Georgia at South Carolina isn’t quite as big, but it’s still huge. Georgia’s defense looked questionable in allowing 44 points at home last week to Tennessee and the Bulldogs’ potent offense suffered a blow this week when it was announced receiver Michael Bennett is lost for the season after tearing his ACL. I suspect South Carolina will use the legs of quarterback Connor Shaw and tailback Marcus Lattimore to control the ball against Georgia with the hope its top-notch defense can help keep the total score under 50 points.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
These games should be so tight, I’d be happy getting one of them right. I’ll take Florida and Georgia to survive the weekend.
The Gators have gotten better every week, with Jeff Driskel validating Coach Will Muschamp’s drawn-out process for picking a starting quarterback. Meanwhile, LSU players are publicly talking about a lack of leadership on the team. Maybe there’s also a hangover effect from getting clocked in the BCS title game.
Georgia’s defense has been surprisingly porous, but the offensive attack has been surprisingly diverse. This is not just the Aaron Murray show. Freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are running with so much force, they might combine to trump the great Marcus Lattimore.
Matt Murschell, Orlando Sentinel
In an SEC East versus SEC West match-up, LSU looks to continue its recent dominance over the Gators. The Tigers have struggled as of late with sloppy performances against Auburn and Towson in back-to-back weeks, while Florida has steadily improved as the season has progressed. Jeff Driskel has grown by leaps and bounds as the Gators starting quarterback, and I expect he will be the difference as Florida pulls off the upset in the Swamp.
Six hours north of Gainesville, South Carolina plays host to Georgia in a battle of teams looking to gain a foothold in the SEC East division race. The Gamecocks are one of the stingiest teams when it comes to defense this season –ranked 13th in the nation – but will get a huge test against an explosive Bulldogs offense led by quarterback Aaron Murray. Murray’s play is part of the reason Georgia is ranked fifth in the nation and why the Dawgs win this matchup.