ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The preseason is over for the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs.
Time to face some actual competitors.
Georgia carries a 19-game profitable streak into its first Southeastern Conference sport, internet hosting South Carolina in a contest that must be tougher than the primary two weeks.
The Bulldogs (2-0) opened with a 48-7 rout of FCS college Tennessee-Martin, then put an identical 45-3 beating on Ball State.
It was tough to gauge from those one-sided performances if Kirby Smart’s staff is identical dominant force that has won two straight nationwide championships.
The coach, in fact, noted that he’s gotten a better learn in sure phases during the week than on recreation days.
“It’s not been the caliber of men we go towards in apply,” Smart mentioned. “Right now, the evaluation has been straightforward. It begins to get lots more durable this week.”
South Carolina (1-1) opened with a 31-17 loss to No. 20 North Carolina earlier than beating FCS college Furman 47-21.
The Gamecocks, who are a 27 1/2-point underdog based on FanDuel Sportsbook, hope to duplicate their beautiful upset of the Bulldogs in 2019 — especially after an embarrassing 48-7 loss to Georgia a yr ago.
“That was a protracted day,” coach Shane Beamer mentioned. “They performed really, very well, and we definitely didn’t.”
The Gamecocks bounced back with upset victories over Tennessee and Clemson late within the season, knocking both teams out of playoff consideration.
“This is a press release game,” cornerback Marcellas Dial mentioned. “We’re hoping to go out there and knock them off, like final 12 months against Tennessee, last year towards Clemson. Everybody counting us out earlier than the game started, (saying we) can’t compete with them.
“We’re simply making an attempt to go on the market and make a press release: We can compete with everyone and we can create one other miracle like we did final year.”
Smart has no complaints about Carson Beck ‘s first two video games as Georgia’s beginning quarterback.
Still, the jury’s out on Stetson Bennett’s replacement until he faces tougher competition.
The Gamecocks are hoping to create some problems for Beck, who has completed 44 of 61 for 577 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.
“He’s obtained a powerful arm, but he’s new back there,” Dial stated, “so we’re trying to do some issues to make him uncomfortable back there, knock him off his recreation.”
Walk-on Mekhi Mews has been an unlikely offensive star for Georgia by way of the primary two weeks.
Filling in for injured Ladd McConkey, Mews has six catches for 102 yards and a landing. He additionally returned a punt for a rating to spark final week’s victory over Ball State.
South Carolina’s combo of quarterback Spencer Rattler and broad receiver Xavier Legette are off to a very fast begin.
Rattler, in his second full season as the Gamecocks quarterback, leads the SEC and is third nationally with 349 yards passing per sport. He has linked on 83% of his throws (55 of 66).
“Spence is a canine,” receiver Eddie Lewis said. “We’re going to make the plays if we’ve the chance.”
Legette is the SEC’s top receiver with 148 yards per recreation.
RUN, DAWGS, RUN
Georgia has struggled to get the ground sport going, an uncommon growth at a school generally recognized as Running Back U.
Injuries have been a significant problem, but help is seemingly on the greatest way with the return of Daijun Edwards. The team’s prime returning rusher from 2022, he missed the primary two video games while ensuring a lingering knee concern was fully healed.
“Having him again helps tremendously,” Smart mentioned.
Georgia has even used receiver Dillon Bell at working again, seeking to discover some explosiveness.
“Dillon Bell has been a selfless player,” Smart said. “It’s something that we’re always going to have, as an choice or package, but plenty of it has to do with the health of our backs.”
CALLING OUT THE FANS
The Georgia fans could be particularly loud after South Carolina defensive sort out Tonka Hemingway failed to include Sanford Stadium on his record of the hardest street environments in college football.
Smart certainly took note of the omission, challenging the gang to prove Hemingway mistaken.
“People wish to query whether or not our fans are elite. Sounds like Tonka known as them out,” the Georgia coach said. “So possibly use Tonka for motivation and let him be the one that spurns our group to return out there at 3:30 (p.m.) and be actually loud and fired up. So I definitely hope our fan base shall be there. They’ve answered the bell each single time. I don’t know why they wouldn’t now.”
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