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Bulldogs not fazed by South Carolina returning to top of schedule

For the past two years, the South Carolina game has come later on Georgia’s schedule –– the sixth game in 2016 and the ninth game last season. However, Bulldogs players said the placement of the game has no hold over them this season. 

“It doesn’t really change anything for us,” Georgia safety J.R. Reed said of the Gamecocks moving to the second spot on UGA’s schedule. “We play to a standard here, and we treat South Carolina just like we treat any other team.”

» Michael Cunningham: Gamecocks not a serious threat to Bulldogs

However, the Bulldogs have struggled on the road against the Gamecocks. In Columbia, the Bulldogs have won one of the past four meetings, defeating South Carolina 28-14 in 2016. The teams meet Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium. CBS will televise the game.

“We had a hard-fought battle two years ago on the Sunday game,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said of the last game in Columbia. “And then last year's game was probably one of the most physical we played in.”  

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In 2016, the Georgia-South Carolina game was moved to a Sunday as Hurricane Matthew threatened parts of the Southeast. However, according to NCAA records, more than 77,000 fans still showed up to the game –– a crowd that can present a challenge for the Bulldogs’ offense on the road.

“I kinda like it,” offensive tackle Andrew Thomas said of South Carolina’s crowd noise. “I look at it like a challenge, going into another team’s environment and competing at the highest level.”

Along with the crowd noise challenge, the Bulldogs will have to stop an up-tempo run game and South Carolina’s wide receiver Deebo Samuel. 

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“He's probably the most underrated player in all of college football, because I don't know that everybody in the country knows what the SEC knows about Deebo Samuel,” Smart said. “I mean the guy is phenomenal. When you look at what he's done, even two years ago, he gave us fits in that game.” 

Getting Samuel the ball is South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley. Bentley was 22-of-29 passing for 250 yards and four touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ season opener against Coastal Carolina, and South Carolina’s offense was 5-of-9 on third downs and 2-of-3 on fourth downs.   

“If you can create an advantage by going up-tempo, and you have the kind of quarterback he has who can lead and coach on the field and do the things he does, I certainly think it's a big advantage,” Smart said.

The Gamecocks were unranked in 2016 when the Bulldogs traveled to Columbia, winning its first game over the Gamecocks in the past four meetings in Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks are now ranked at No. 24 in the AP Poll, while the Bulldogs are ranked at No. 3. 

“The game can be a simple game; when you get down to it,” Smart said. “You gotta make plays when you get an opportunity.”

Jake Fromm was born July 30, 1998. Fromm's first moment at the national level came in the 2011 Little League World Series. Fromm led Houston County High to the third round of the state football playoffs as a senior. A 4-star recruit, Fromm committed to Alabama before changing his mind and later signing with Georgia. Fromm's college debut came as a freshman, on Sept. 2, 2017 against Appalachian State, after starting QB Jacob Eason was injured. Fromm's first start for UGA came at Notre Dame, directing the B

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