Georgia State (0-0) at South Carolina (0-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Line: South Carolina by 12 1/2 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
South Carolina needs to get off to a winning start, given that it dives into rough Southeastern Conference waters when it plays at No. 19 Arkansas and at home against defending national champion No. 3 Georgia the next two weeks. The Panthers won a school record eight games last year and would love to win an opener in an SEC stadium for a second time in four seasons after topping Tennessee 38-30 to start the 2019 season.
Georgia State's run game vs. South Carolina's defensive line. The Panthers were eighth in the country and second in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing last year at 226.4 yards a game. Jamyest Williams, who began his college career as a Gamecocks defensive back, has proven difficult for Georgia State opponents to slow down as he averaged 6.7 yards per attempt last fall. South Carolina seems to have a strong defensive front, anchored by end Jordan Burch and tackle Zacch Pickens. If they can keep Williams and the Panthers' bottled up, it could be a long night for Georgia State.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Georgia State: QB Darren Grainger transferred from Furman before the 2021 season and led the Panthers to an 8-3 mark. Grainger, from Conway, South Carolina, not far from Myrtle Beach, threw for 1,715 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He ran for 660 yards, the most among Sun Belt quarterbacks last season.
South Carolina: QB Spencer Rattler has had Gamecock fans buzzing all offseason. The one-time Oklahoma Heisman Trophy hopeful announced his transfer to South Carolina last December and makes his first start in his new SEC home. Rattler passed for 4,514 yards, 39 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.
FACTS & FIGURES
Georgia State plays consecutive games against Power Five opponents for a second straight season. The Panthers fell to Auburn and North Carolina last year. They'll face the Tar Heels next week after South Carolina. ... The Gamecocks are seeking more consistency at quarterback after needing four starters at the position a year ago due to injuries and transfers. ... Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott grew up about 30 minutes from South Carolina's campus in Camden. ... Georgia State's Elliott worked at South Carolina from 2010 to 2015. He was offensive line coach under Steve Spurrier much of that stretch, although Elliott served as interim head coach after Spurrier's abrupt midseason departure seven years ago.
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