College football started off with a bang in Sydney, Australia. But now it is back in the states and our first FBS game will be an SEC East showdown. The South Carolina Gamecocks will travel to Nashville to play the Vanderbilt Commodores.
This should be your modern SEC East football game. Both teams have at least a decent defense and an offense that can only produce around 35 points on a great day. But isn’t football better ugly?
Ugly in a good way though. Ugly as in big hits on defense. Running backs carrying the ball 20 times or more in ball game. Gritty hard-nose football that you really only see in the SEC and that is why this game is so compelling.
Both teams have good defense. South Carolina has turned the page from having an offensive-minded coach in Steve Spurrier and have now handed the keys to program to defensive-minded head coach Will Muschamp. Muschamp did inherit a defense that can make some plays. This USC defense definitely has the talent to rival the Gamecock defense of the early 2010s. They have great depth at their pass rushing positions. Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams should definitely have a breakout season this year at the weak linebacker spot. He has the tools and skills to rush the passer and to guard some slot receivers and most tight ends.
Their defensive ends can definitely get to the passer at a high volume. Marquavis Lewis, Darius English, Dante Sawyer, and Shameik Blackshear all can pressure the passer and make it easier on a Gamecock secondary that needs help.
On offense, the Gamecocks have a bunch of unknowns. They will be starting two new linemen on the right side of the offensive line. USC has a lot of new talented players but most of them are unproven. They still have not settled the quarterback battle. On their first depth chart they listed senior Perry Orth, freshman Jake Bentley, and freshman Brandon McIllwain. South Carolina should have a good running game with the stable of running backs they have in Columbia featuring freshman AJ Turner.
For Vanderbilt, they are already a pretty good defensive team. Last year their defense was in the top 25 of points allowed in the FBS. Around half of that teams defense comes back this year including their All-SEC First Team stalwart linebacker Zach Cunningham. Cunningham had double digit tackles in six games last year and he finished last year on a three game double digit tackle streak. This defense has proven their worth on the field and wants to prove it again this year.
Vandy has settled their quarterback battle and it seems like Kyle Shurmur will be the starter for this game. And he will be protected by familiar lineman but some in different places. Last year’s starting guard Barrett Gouger will be starting at center this year.
I think Vandy’s continuity and experience will be the key determining factor in this game and I see the Commodores winning by less than two scores. The score will probably look like 20-17, 31-17, or 24-10.