The Gamecocks stunned America last weekend when they dominated #1 ranked Alabama in Columbia to win 35-21. While the Gamecocks were ranked as high as #12 going in to the Auburn game, problems with the offensive line, quarterback and a defense that apparently had no answer for Auburn’s rushing game led many to believe that the Gamecocks were in for a home field embarrassment.
Whether it was the off-week that gave the Gamecocks the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and prepare for Alabama or Steve Spurrier having a midnight meeting with the devil, there is no doubt the Gamecocks were ready. An explosive running back duo, arguably the best quarterback in the nation and a defense that allowed only 4 touchdowns in the team’s prior 5 games proved to be no problem for the Gamecocks.
While some Carolina fans were certain that the team was doomed for another 6-6 or 7-5 season with a less than respectable bowl game to follow, now fans are debating which team they would rather see the Gamecocks play in the SEC Championship game. Any other year, most college football fans would laugh at the thought, but 2010 just might be the year for the Gamecocks.
In past years, the Gamecocks would be hard-pressed to contend for the SEC East. Getting past Florida, Georgia and Tennessee to take the East is a tough challenge for any team, let alone a team that has been historically mediocre. Now that Tennessee and Georgia are playing like they belong in the ACC, the only hurdle in the Gamecocks path is Florida.
The Gamecocks should be favored in the games leading up to their battle with the Gators in Gainesville. With the loss of Tim Tebow, the Gators aren’t as strong as they have been in recent years, but the Gamecocks have to travel to the Swamp in November, and that’s no easy undertaking for any team. The Gamecocks have never won a game in the Swamp, but if they can make it past the rest of their SEC opponents, they just might have the momentum to do so and earn the SEC East crown.
Will the Gamecocks win out in the East or will history repeat itself and give the Gamecocks a midseason collapse similar to the prior three seasons? Only time will tell, but there is little doubt that Steve Spurrier is fielding his best team since arriving in Columbia.