BATON ROUGE, La. -- When Steve Spurrier was asked Wednesday if he appreciated the process it took to build No. 3 South Carolina into a top-5 team, given that it took much longer than it did at Florida, he was quick to challenge the premise of the question.
"We're only halfway through the year," he said. "We haven't hit the heights we hit at Florida."
Not yet. Coming off a ground-breaking 35-7 rout of Georgia, the Gamecocks must now go to No. 9 LSU (7 p.m. CDT Saturday, ESPN) and prove it's for real.
1. Big Nasties
Two of the nation's best defensive lines will match up against each other. LSU could start a defensive line of four future first-round NFL draft picks, including South Carolina native Sam Montgomery at defensive end. South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney might be the most talented defensive lineman in the country. Welcome to SEC football.
Auburn, Towson and Florida all found a sliver of success moving the ball against LSU's rugged defense, ranked third nationally, using a misdirection running game featuring the quarterback as a runner. With Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina runs a cut-read offense that could give the Tigers problem.
3. Saturday night in Death Valley
LSU gets a 7 p.m. kickoff, the traditional start time it rarely enjoys. The Tigers have the nation's longest home winning streak (21 games). Will one of college football's toughest home crowds help make up for a struggling offense?
4. Pass on the pass?
Don't look for a lot of successful passing. South Carolina threw just 10 passes in the win over Georgia and has embraced the power run. LSU is 12th out of 14 SEC teams in passing and has given up 15 sacks. USC's defense leads the SEC with 25 sacks.
5. Patch it up
Because of injuries, LSU has started different offensive line combinations. Can the Tigers find the right combination to get its running game going and to protect quarterback Zach Mettenberger?