After playing their most dramatic games this season, Florida and South Carolina will get back at it this Saturday in more SEC action.
The No. 9 Gators travel to Columbia, S.C., to meet the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium in their annual East Division contest.
Ranked seventh last week, Florida (6-1, 3-1 SEC) led then-No. 5 LSU 28-21 with a little less than a half remaining in Baton Rouge, putting the Gators in position to own the East's top spot if they could hold on in the Tigers' raucous Death Valley.
But Florida never scored again, and LSU rallied for a 42-28 win to remain unbeaten.
The victory vaulted the Bayou Bengals to No. 2 nationally behind SEC West rival Alabama, while the Gators were left wondering "What if?"
Florida coach Dan Mullen cited his team's run defense as a culprit in the loss, saying not enough credit was given to the Tigers' ground game that produced 218 yards.
A three-touchdown underdog last Saturday, South Carolina (3-3, 2-2) rushed for 142 yards in its stunning 20-17 double-overtime upset at No. 3 Georgia. Running back Rico Dowdle had a team-high 79 yards on 21 carries.
Injuries are an issue for both teams, with Florida especially concerned about its two star defensive ends.
Strong-side end Jabari Zuniga (three sacks) and rush end Jonathan Greenard (four sacks) are nursing ankle injuries.
"Injury-wise, we've got to see with our ends. They'll be game-time decisions, so we'll have to see how that goes this week," Mullen said during Monday's press conference.
Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski (knee sprain) is expected to play after getting hurt Saturday. Freshman Dakereon Joyner, who played in the second half and both overtimes, will be the backup.
Hilinski has completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 1,028 yards with six touchdowns and three picks in six games this season.
Muschamp said getting up emotionally for a second straight week for a big game will be a challenge.
"We've got a really good Florida team coming in here, and how are we going to respond?" said Muschamp. "We haven't been in this position as a program for 10 years. So, how are we going to respond to this? That's the big challenge for us this week."
South Carolina shocked No. 1 Alabama 35-21 on Oct. 9, 2010, but played unranked Kentucky the following week.
Now, the Gamecocks have a chance to knock off a top 10-ranked conference foe in back-to-back games -- which would give them the tiebreaker over Florida and Georgia, who were overwhelmingly considered the top two teams in the East in preseason polls.
That would move South Carolina within realm of winning the division and playing in the SEC title game for the first time since 2010, the Gamecocks' sole appearance in the game.
Sophomore cornerback Israel Mukuamu was a catalyst in the win over Georgia, recording three interceptions -- including a 53-yard pick-six for a 17-10 halftime lead -- and 11 tackles.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder became the first Gamecock to notch a three-interception game since 1988, earning him SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He is also third on the team with 37 tackles.
Florida leads the series 27-9-3, although the Gamecocks have won five of the past nine meetings.
--Field Level Media