South Carolina Football: Gamecocks' Blueprint to Earning a BCS Berth
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Even before the season started, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier pointed out that winning the early-season matchup with Georgia really hasn't meant much in determining the SEC East winner.
After Saturday's 41-30 loss to the Bulldogs that left the Gamecocks 1-1, 0-1 in the SEC, Spurrier is hoping that recent history will repeat itself.
Despite losing to the Gamecocks each of the two previous seasons, Georgia has rebounded to win the remainder of its SEC games and wind up in the league championship game.
South Carolina will use the Bulldogs' example as motivation for what remains possible—and that includes winning the SEC East, the conference championship and a spot in a BCS bowl game, maybe even the championship game in Pasadena.
Addressing Immediate Concerns
South Carolina's defense was horrific in the loss to Georgia.
Expected to be a strength of the team as it has been each of the last three seasons, the Gamecocks' defense must prove that last Saturday was more an aberration than the norm.
The good news is South Carolina has the talent on hand to be successful. The defense will get better with time, as the younger players in the lineup learn to mesh with the veterans.
The Gamecocks won't push the panic button and try to make wholesale changes. Instead they will, in the words of Spurrier, "continue to coach 'em up."
The remaining schedule sets up favorably for the Gamecocks.
On Saturday, the Gamecocks are at home against Vanderbilt, and they'll have to make sure they're over their hangover from the loss to the Bulldogs. They can't afford to let Georgia beat them twice.
An off week follows Saturday's game, then the Gamecocks play at Central Florida and are at home against Kentucky—both very winnable games.
Then comes a treacherous three-game stretch on the road—at Arkansas, at Tennessee and at Missouri.
If the Gamecocks survive that stretch, they close out the season at home against Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina and Clemson.
South Carolina gets an off week before facing the Gators.
The Gamecocks are the likely favorites in all of their remaining games, with the possible exception of Florida and Clemson.
Small Margin for Error
Unless Georgia falls apart, the Gamecocks really have little to no margin for error.
South Carolina needs to win out in the SEC. The Gamecocks also can ill afford to lose out of conference, although they may be able to weather a loss to Clemson if the Tigers are still highly ranked by the end of the season.
For South Carolina to reach the championship game, the Gamecocks need to win their remaining six SEC games and Georgia will have to lose twice.
LSU, which comes to Athens, Ga., on Sept. 28, is the Bulldogs' most formidable remaining conference opponent.
That means Tennessee, Missouri, Florida, Auburn or Kentucky need to do South Carolina a favor by knocking off the Bulldogs.
If the two teams both finish with one conference loss, Georgia gets the nod because they beat the Gamecocks.
Can It Happen?
As previously noted, Georgia has reached the championship game each of the last two years after stumbling against the Gamecocks.
Even so, Georgia lost twice to eventual national champion Alabama, and it certainly wouldn't be a shock if the Crimson Tide once again awaits the SEC East winner.
Just getting there will be a remarkable feat for the Gamecocks, who have painted themselves into a bit of a corner with the loss to the Bulldogs.
However, this may be the Gamecocks' most talented team yet under Spurrier.
If South Carolina can turn things around and make it to the championship game, rest assured that Gamecocks fans will consider it a successful season.
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