Chants, Gamecocks, Tigers face tough gridiron tests

Ever since this game was scheduled three years ago, Coastal Carolina couldn’t wait to play Georgia.

Now that the day is finally here, it seems the 2-0 Chanticleers couldn’t have picked a worse time.

The Bulldogs are off to an 0-2 start and even beloved mascot Uga seems to be howling for coach Mark Richt’s firing. After losing to top-10 teams Boise State and South Carolina, some poor small school has to pay.

In this case it is CCU, but the Chants are the ones being paid. It’s another one of college football’s dirty secrets – the guarantee game.

The deal goes something like this: Big school gives small school hundreds of thousands to dollars to come to town one weekend and roll over for the home team; both schools and their fans and boosters go home happy.

Only the little guys aren’t taking a dive so easily anymore. Ever since Appalachian State upset Michigan in the Big House in 2007, FCS teams have been taking their best shots at the big-shot FBS squads.

All the more reason that the Bulldogs will be on high alert Saturday. If Richt hopes to silence his critics for a week, he needs to hang a half-a-hundred on the scoreboard. At least the Chants get one moral victory to go with their big check. … Georgia 49, Coastal 10.

* Auburn at Clemson: Lewis Grizzard once called Clemson “Auburn with a lake.” It might be tough to tell the two Tigers apart on Saturday.

Both are talented teams that have found ways to win in their first two games of the season. Auburn dodged bullets in both of their wins, a sign the defending national champions still have some confidence and determination left on the roster.

Clemson’s victories have been much less dramatic, at least late in the games. The Tigers trailed Troy and Wofford at halftime but came back to take care of business. Auburn won’t be as easy to put away. … Auburn (+3) 34, Clemson 31.

* Navy at South Carolina: The Gamecocks are coming off back-to-back shootout wins over East Carolina and Georgia, but Navy won’t get into a fast-paced game with the Gamecocks.

In a strategy that sounds more like it should belong to Army, Navy likes to eat up ground and the clock with a triple-option attack that tests the discipline of the defense. USC’s superior speed is neutralized by an attack that runs over you, not away from you.

But the Gamecocks offense is tough to stop and a steady dose of Marcus Lattimore left and right and Alshon Jeffrey down the field should provide plenty of points to pull away from the Midshipmen. … South Carolina (-16.5) 38, Navy 20.

Last week: 3-0 straight up, 2-0-1 against the spread. Overall: 6-0 straight up; 4-1-1 against the spread.

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