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Five predictions for USC vs. Furman

Credit: GamecockCentral.com Credit: GamecockCentral.com

By Scott Hood, GamecockCentral.com

South Carolina hosts Furman Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium in a clash between two Palmetto State schools. Here are five predictions for the game: 

1. CONNOR SHAW WILL PLAY AT LEAST 50 PERCENT OF THE SNAPS: My prediction last week that Stephen Garcia would take every snap for the Gamecocks against Georgia turned out to the accurate. This week, I'm going in the other direction. Without question, the coaches view this game as a great opportunity to secure Shaw some valuable experience playing quarterback in a game environment. Shaw did OK in his debut two weeks ago against Southern Miss, completing 4-of-5 passes for 32 yards. Of course, the other Gamecock players need to cooperate. If this one plays out similarly to the Wofford game in 2006, then Shaw will see only a few snaps.     

2. MULTIPLE USC RUNNING BACKS WILL RUSH FOR MORE THAN 50 YARDS: The spread-the-wealth philosophy will extend to the running backs as well. Some USC fans expressed concern about Marcus Lattimore carrying the ball 37 times against UGA. They won't need to fret this week. Head coach Steve Spurrier has said some of the other running backs should get a chance to carry the ball, especially Kenny Miles. I look for Lattimore and Miles to both finish with between 10 and 15 rushing attempts in this game as USC works on perfecting the inside zone. Both are power runners able to break tackles and knock defenders backwards, which is why they've found favor with running backs coach Jay Graham and Spurrier. 

3. FURMAN WILL HAVE LESS THAN 250 YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE: Unlike Wofford, which ran the triple option with success against USC because the Gamecocks never see it, Furman's base offense is the spread. Without question, it fits the USC defense a lot better than some of the funky offenses you see around college football. Last week. Furman QB Chris Forcier was able to turn the corner on a sweep and rumble 85 yards for a touchdown. That won't happen against USC. He'll get smacked in the mouth before he turns upfield.   

4. USC WILL REMAIN PERFECT IN THE RED ZONE: USC has made the most of their opportunities inside the 20-yard line so far in 2010. The Gamecocks are 8-for-8 when crossing into the red zone with six touchdowns and two field goals. There is no reason for USC not to continue that trend. Like most I-AA schools, Furman is smaller in the front seven defensively than most teams USC face in the SEC. Starting nose tackle Pete Sanders is listed at 5-foot-11, 258 pounds. The Gamecocks should be able to exploit their size advantage when they get close to the end zone.      

5. THE LOUDEST CHEERS WILL COME WHEN THEY ANNOUNCE THE AUBURN-CLEMSON SCORE: That's because I expect Auburn to rout the Tigers. In my opinion, Clemson's ridiculously easy early season schedule has ill-prepared them for the atmosphere they will find themselves at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I was there in 2005 when USC was crushed by AU and the entire experience can be overwhelming for novices. With USC expected to handle Furman easily, most Gamecock fans will be following the game down on the Plains on the radio.

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