The University of South Carolina's football team has entered into a zone that it has never crossed: A start of 6-0, a No. 3 ranking with that undefeated record, and now Gamecock fans can finally enter conversations with fellow football comrades of midseason national title aspirations.
The delicate but surprising 35-7 victory against the then-fifth ranked Georgia Bulldogs this past weekend shocked many pundits and fellow fans across the SEC. While the offense got off to a huge start, the defense took care of the rest and stifled an explosive Georgia offense.
But the real test for South Carolina will come this upcoming weekend as it takes the trip to Baton Rouge to face LSU. Note: This is a real test because LSU just lost a heartbreaker to Florida. The Tigers still want to have a chance to win a national title, so they will be looking for blood, and this is an away game for USC.
It’s a game that fans may voluntary wave off as another big game the Gamecocks will expunge from a reeling SEC power, but it may be somewhat harder than most will think.
Because South Carolina has distorted its offense to a predominantly running system, it could be easy for LSU to make the game a defensive slugfest.
LSU runs a 4-3 defense, which allows its defensive ends to contain and its linebackers to run wall to wall. If Marcus Lattimore, Connor Shaw and Kenny Miles don’t get it going early in the game, it could be a long night for the Gamecocks offensively.
Fortunately, the Gamecocks have a good receiving corps in Damiere Byrd, Bruce Ellington and Ace Sanders. But their skills will only show if Steve Spurrier will let it.
If not, the Gamecocks will face a Tressel-ball like game, which will include great defense, field position, special teams and big breaks on either side of the ball. If they can match LSU pound-for-pound, then South Carolina could be on its way to a 7-0 record.
We all have witnessed this season that the Gamecocks' defense is stout, the offense's running game is top-notch and its passing game is brilliant when it’s hitting on all cylinders. But this game may be decided by the coaches. All the players have to do is let their talents shine.