Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/19/12
No one really saw this coming. Sure, two months ago everybody knew that South Carolina and Florida had decent teams. And if you listened to any of the abundant Steve Spurrier pre-season sound bites, you got an inkling that the Gamecocks would be a threat in the SEC East. But come on. Who honestly thought the Gamecocks in Gainesville would be The Game of Week 8? Just one year ago the Gators were imploding, incapable of finding an offense and unable to stop any team with decent pass-to-run ratios. Now theyre the No.3-ranked team in the land, a virtual powerhouse behind the running and passing talent of their quarterback Jeff Driskel. Who would have thought? Nobody outside a few crazed Gators fans has compared Driskel to Tim Tebow, but the sophomore has put his Florida team in position to win the East for the first time since Saint Timothys graduation. Driskel ran for 177 yards last week against Vanderbilt a record for a Gators quarterback and he is averaging just under 140 yards a game with his arm. Those arent Heisman numbers, but they are good enough for Florida to be among an elite group of undefeated teams heading into the homestretch. It helps that the Gators are strong on both the offensive and defensive lines. Their defensive front has been surprisingly explosive with 303-pound tackle Sharrif Floyd and defensive ends Dominique Easley and Lerentee McCray leading the way. Of course, South Carolina plays second fiddle to no one when it comes to defensive ends. Devin Taylor is one of the best in the country at the position, and hes the second best on his own team. Jadeveon Clowney would most likely be the No.1 pick in the NFL Draft if he werent a sophomore. Even Will Muschamp conceded that Clowney is a game-changing threat on every playing. He can certainly ruin your day, said the Gators coach in typical understated fashion. The Gamecocks also feel pretty good about their quarterback. Connor Shaws worst game was last weeks loss to LSU where he only completed 55 percent of his passes and had two interceptions. But he still tossed it around for 177 yards and two touchdowns, which is impressive against a Les Miles-coached team. Shaw is averaging 157 yards per game through the air and another 47 per game on the ground, which, like Driskel, will earn him no mention in the Heisman balloting, but will pick up a lot of wins. The key to this one just might be who is not playing. As of Thursday, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was questionable after struggling with a hip injury and missing practice most of the week. That could be the difference. With Lattimore, the Gamecocks are a pound-and-ground offense. Without him, they become just another okay passing team without a world-class, go-to receiver. The last time Lattimore visited Gainesville he gained 212 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Gamecocks routed the Gators 36-14 back in 2010. That win, along with beating Georgia, Tennessee, Vandy and Kentucky, earned Spurriers crew their first trip to Atlanta as SEC East champions. Now the Gators are looking to avenge that loss and win a trip to Atlanta as well. If Lattimore is on the sideline, that path will be a lot cleaner. At the end of the day, we're about winning championships on and off the field here at Florida, Muschamp said. (This game) is another step to Atlanta.
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