- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina’s Mike Davis isn’t gearing up for a showdown or to stamp himself one of college football’s best back when the Gamecocks host No. 6 Georgia on Saturday.

He is, however, anxious to see a good friend: Todd Gurley.

Davis and Gurley are two of the Southeastern Conference’s elite runners and both have put up strong early performances to help their teams. Davis rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in South Carolina’s bounce-back, 33-23 victory over East Carolina last week.

Gurley ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns - he had a fourth on a kickoff return - as the Bulldogs defeated Clemson two weeks ago.

This time, South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) and Georgia (1-0, 0-0) face off for early control of the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.

Davis said there’s no rivalry with Gurley. There’s no trash talking or bravado between the pals who enjoy watching each other excel.

“He actually came up here and came to my house,” Davis said. We’re real good friends. There’s no competition between me and him.”

Don’t count on anyone else buying into that.

Gurley didn’t have much luck as a freshman with just 39 yards when Georgia last came to Williams-Brice Stadium and left with a humiliating 35-7 victory. Davis actually outgained his Bulldog buddy, 149 yards to 132 a year ago at Georgia. But it was Gurley who walked off elated with the 41-30 win. Davis had a critical late fumble near the Bulldog red when South Carolina was trying to stay in the game.

Davis knows the importance this game has - South Carolina hasn’t started 0-2 in the SEC since 2008 - and thinks the Gamecocks picked up a strong dose of confidence with their last win, capped when the Gamecocks held the ball for nearly 11 of the final 12 minutes.

And Davis won’t let anything, including his friendship with Gurley, keep him from helping South Carolina succeed.

___

Things to Watch when No. 6 Georgia plays No. 24 South Carolina:

ALL EYES ON GURLEY: Georgia’s Todd Gurley almost singlehandedly put Clemson away two weeks ago. He blunted the Tigers momentum with his game-changing kickoff return TD then was near unstoppable in the second half as the Bulldogs outscored Clemson 24-0 on the way to victory. Georgia coach Mark Richt was uncertain whether Gurley would continue running back kicks, particularly if opponents don’t let him return it. As long as Gurley’s healthy to perform like he did last time out, Richt’s happy.

SOUTH CAROLINA’S PASS RUSH: It’s still a work in progress even though the Gamecocks did get more pressure against East Carolina than in the 52-28 loss to Texas A&M; two games ago. The Dixon brothers - Gerald and Gerald Jr. - will lead things again this week with J.T. Surratt, the lone starter back from last year’s stellar group, should clog up the middle. They’ll have a tougher test against Georgia’s offensive line, which features two seniors and a junior.

GEORGIA’S PASS: The Bulldogs might have to rely on their run game with so many banged up receivers. Coach Mark Richt said receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley were unlikely to play, although Scott-Wesley did go through some practice drills this week. First-year quarterback starter Hutson Mason played an efficient game against Clemson, hitting on 18 of 26 throws for 131 yards.

SEC EAST RACE: South Carolina spent much of the offseason as favorites to win the East, something that lasted until its embarrassing loss to Texas A&M.; Georgia took over as top Dawg following the impressive win over Clemson. While this winner would again be in the driver’s seat, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier understands there are no guarantees: The Georgia-South Carolina winner the past three seasons has not won the East and played in the SEC title game.

SPURRIER’S MILESTONE: South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier became just the third SEC coach to win 200 games, joining Paul “Bear” Byrant (292) and Vince Dooley (201) to reach that milestone. It’s up to the Bulldogs to keep former coach Dooley in second place when they take on Spurrier on Saturday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide