<
>

East impact game: Georgia vs. South Carolina

Historically, you don't want to be on the losing end of the Georgia-South Carolina matchup.

Since 1992, the loser of this game has failed to make it to the SEC championship game. Surely, Georgia fans remember the 11-2 season in 2007 that featured an early heartbreaking 16-14 loss to the Gamecocks, and South Carolina might have tasted its first SEC championship game in 2005 if not for a 17-15 loss to the Dawgs.

This fall, both teams have the talent to make a title run, and this game should be a major factor in that.

South Carolina, the East's defending champ, will enter the season as the East favorite and returns a solid defensive unit that should feature one of the most ferocious pass-rushing groups in the league. Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are back on offense and if troubled quarterback Stephen Garcia stays focused, the Gamecocks shouldn't miss a beat.

Georgia coach Mark Richt's seat is hot in Athens and a rash of injuries and transfers this offseason didn't help. The offensive line is hurting and the departures of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King at running back means Georgia will rely on incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell even more.

Compared to the rest of the East, these two teams will have relatively easier championship roads. Neither plays Alabama nor LSU and the Bulldogs don't play Arkansas. Florida and Tennessee, who have even more questions surrounding them, play both Alabama and LSU -- back-to-back.

If Richt wants to cool down his seat, he'll have to make a real run to Atlanta, and that means getting past Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. An early SEC win should give Georgia the confidence and momentum to attempt that.