Older Game­cocks be­lieve they can snap The Swamp’s spell

The State - - Front Page - BY JOSH KEN­DALL jk­endall@thes­tate.com

The last time South Carolina vis­ited The Swamp, Jake Bent­ley was un­de­feated as a col­lege quar­ter­back.

Bent­ley took over the Game­cocks start­ing job mid­way through that 2016 sea­son and opened his ca­reer with home wins against UMass, Ten­nessee and Mis­souri. Then he took South Carolina to play Florida on the road in what would start the Game­cocks cur­rent eightgame los­ing streak against ranked op­po­nents.

“Last time, me, all of us were so young,” Bent­ley said. “We got down by 10 or 14, and you would have thought we were down by 50. I re­mem­ber that vividly. No one had a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. We were so young that we got down on our­selves. That’s the big­gest thing I re­mem­ber is think­ing about how much we’ve ma­tured since then.”

On Satur­day, the Game­cocks (5-3 over­all, 4-3 SEC) hope that ma­tu­rity turns into a vic­tory against the No. 19 Ga­tors (6-3, 4-3).

“We’re an older team,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We have more ex­pe­ri­ence on our foot­ball team. You want to con­tinue to move the pro­gram for­ward,

you’ve got to win tough road games, and this will be a tough road game.”

Bent­ley’s ex­pe­ri­ence in par­tic­u­lar should help the Game­cocks. He is 37-of-62 for 462 yards, zero touch­downs and four in­ter­cep­tions in two games against Florida. His last game in The Swamp, he was sacked five times, and South Carolina punted seven times be­fore it scored its first, and only, points of the game in a 20-7 loss.

“It’s def­i­nitely one of the most dif­fi­cult places to play,” Bent­ley said. “Grow­ing up you al­ways see that sta­dium, and I al­ways wanted to play there. Get­ting to play there has been re­ally cool for me. It’s re­ally loud though. It def­i­nitely is go­ing to be a great at­mos­phere there.”

South Carolina is 2-14 all-time in Gainesville, Fla., with those wins com­ing in 2010 and 2014.

“The Swamp is up there. It’s prob­a­bly top three (tough­est places to play), Texas A&M, The Swamp and prob­a­bly Clem­son,” ju­nior wide re­ceiver Bryan Ed­wards said. “Those places get real rowdy, so you have to come fo­cused and pre­pared.”

GERRY ME­LEN­DEZ gme­len­dez@thes­tate.com

Game­cocks QB Jake Bent­ley re­acts as his fourth down pass falls in­com­plete in the end zone in the fourth quar­ter against Florida at Ben Hill Grif­fin Sta­dium in Gainesville, Florida, in 2016. The Game­cocks lost.

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