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NCAA Football East: Georgia’s WR Out for the Season, #5 Georgia vs. #6 South Carolina

No surprise here, but the SEC conference has six teams in the Top 25 this week; five of them are in the Top 10. Whether this remains, it will be tested this weekend in my pick for the Game of the Week: Georgia vs. South Carolina.

One interesting factor for it is the loss of Georgia’s top receiver for the season. How will this affect the Bulldog’s season as well as quarterback Aaron Murray’s play?

Let’s start with the loss of Michael Bennett.

Georgia WR Michael Bennett

On Tuesday, the wide receiver injured his knee in practice, tearing his right ACL; it will require surgery according to the school.

He is out for the rest of the season.

In his five 2012 games, the redshirt sophomore had 24 catches, 345 yards with four touchdowns; this represented highs for the team.

So who is left in the receiver corp.? Fortunately there’s good options with Tavarres King (16 catches, 307 yards and three touchdowns) and Marlon Brown (17 catches, 272 yards with three scores).

Last season’s No. 2 receiver Malcolm Mitchell has been on defense but is returning to the offense.

There’s also the tight end targets of Jay Rome and Arthur Lynch.

But what’s the impact on Murray? Bennett was his go-to receiver and this season, over 70 percent of his catches ended with first downs; six of these resulted in third down conversions.

While no one is going to come out and say it, Georgia has to be concerned, especially Murray. There’s also that intangible chemistry factor.

# 5 Georgia (5-0, 3-0) vs. #6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0)

South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

In the battle of the unbeatens, this game will take center stage for the conference and includes a number of talented players.

Without Georgia’s top wide receiver, fans’ eyes will be on freshman running back Todd Gurley; he sits at the top of the conference with his 586 yards rushing. On the other side is South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore who has 440 yards and eight touchdowns.

He has been a thorn in Georgia’s side. In 2011, he rushed for 176 yards and one touchdown against the team and in 2010, he grabbed 182 yards and two touchdowns.

Georgia’s linebacker Jarvis Jones along with Gamecock’s defensive end Jadeveon Clowney are among the nation’s best pass rushers.

Then we have the quarterbacks.

Georgia’s Aaron Murray is tops in the country and is in the Heisman conversation. To-date, he is 88 for 129, 1370 yards and 12 touchdowns. As good as he is, Murray has thrown three picks already and for this game, there will be a zero tolerance policy.

The Gamecock’s defense already has seven interceptions this season and sits as No. 13 in total defense.

South Carolina’s quarterback Connor Shaw doesn’t really compare and has battled injuries in this short season. To-date, he is  50-64, 571 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Last year, South Carolina won 45-42 and this year, they’re out to prove they deserve a Top 10 ranking.

The bettors appear slightly indecisive but give the Gamecocks -1 with a 54 over/under.

In other conference games this weekend, there’s the second Top 10 battle: #4 LSU (5-0, 1-0) vs #10 Florida (4-0, 3-0).

Last week, LSU had a less than impressive performance against Towson, winning 38-22. It knocked them down in the rankings and this week, they’ll look for a convincing win to change the perception; they’ll need to cut down the turnovers and penalties.

LSU’s quarterback Zack Muttenberg has added to the lackluster games and will need to take it up a notch this week.

Florida brings a team that is constantly improving and knows they’re going up against a tough team on Saturday.

The team’s quarterback Jeff Driskel is in his first starting season and will need better play from the offensive line to cut down on his eight sacks to-date.

In their last meeting, LSU dominated in a 41-11 win. The nod this year again goes to the Tigers at -2.5 with a 42 over/under.




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