ATHENS, Ga. – Third-ranked Georgia knows it is going to face every opponent's best shot, as it did in a close first half last week at Tennessee before pulling away for an easy 43-14 victory, and being ready defensively is a focal point entering Saturday's home contest with South Carolina. The Bulldogs trailed 14-10 in the first half before the defense settled down, Jake Fromm fired two touchdowns before halftime and Georgia scored the game's final 33 points to remain unbeaten.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Georgia -24.5
"You go into a game expecting one thing, and the other team has worked really hard to try and counteract that and have tendencies to do different things," Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who served as defensive coordinator at Alabama becoming coming to his alma mater, told reporters Monday. South Carolina has spent plenty of time preparing for the Bulldogs considering the Gamecocks have not played since a 24-7 victory over Kentucky on Sept. 28. South Carolina surrendered only 212 yards of total offense to the Wildcats – its fewest yards allowed in one game since 2012 – but coach Will Muschamp (also a Georgia alum) told reporters Monday the defense must be more consistent. "We've done some really good things at times, and (at times) we haven't done them enough," he said.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (2-3, 1-2 SEC)
The running back tandem of seniors Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster shined against Kentucky, Feaster finishing with 107 yards and two touchdowns while Dowdle added 102 yards and a score. Freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski, who took over for the injured Jake Brantley after the season opener, has passed for 912 yards and five touchdowns while completing 61.1 percent of his passes. Senior defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum earned conference Defensive Player of the Week honors after registering a career-best three sacks along with a forced fumble against Kentucky.
ABOUT GEORGIA (5-0, 2-0)
Fromm was outstanding against Tennessee, completing 24-of-29 passes for 288 yards and the two scores, and on the season has yet to throw an interception in 111 attempts while completing 77.5 percent of his passes (third nationally). The Bulldogs are 12th in FBS in rushing yards per game (250), sparked by junior D'Andre Swift, who has gained 460 yards with four touchdowns while averaging seven yards per carry. The Bulldogs defense leads the SEC and is fifth in the country in rushing yards allowed per game (59.6), as junior defensive backs Richard LeCounte and Mark Webb each recorded a team-high five tackles against Tennessee.
1. Dowdle sprained his left ankle near the end of the Kentucky game but is 100 percent after the bye week.
2. Georgia senior K Rodrigo Blankenship, who kicked three field goals at Tennessee and leads all FBS kickers with 58 points, earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the third time this season.
3. South Carolina's victory over Kentucky snapped a six-game losing streak against Power Five competition.
PREDICTION: Georgia 41, South Carolina 13