Florida Football: Can South Carolina's Upset of Missouri Ignite Late-Season Run?

Allison BankoFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2013

Oct 19, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (3) hands off during the first half of the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators may have been off the field this weekend, but safety Cody Riggs still got his adrenaline spike on Saturday.

Like many, Riggs had the South Carolina-Missouri game on when Steve Spurrier's boys topped the Tigers in double overtime. But unlike other viewers, Riggs wasn't hyped for the Gamecocks because he's a diehard fan—the upset put UF back in the race for SEC East

On Monday, Riggs told reporters he went crazy after USC's win, calling teammate and UF defensive back Jaylen Watkins (GatorVision). 

"Man, we're back in it!" he said to Watkins over the phone. "We're back. We still got a chance."

With that, Riggs said he opened his computer and started to watch film on Georgia. The Gator had a tough go in Missouri the previous week after getting ejected for targeting. (You bet his mama wasn't too happy after traveling all the way from South Florida to chilly Columbia to see her son play all of 10 seconds.) 

But grinning ear-to-ear during his press conference Monday, Riggs showed his gratitude for what lies ahead, saying, "Thanks to South Carolina." 

The Gamecocks handed the Tigers their first loss of the season, loosening the grip of Mizzou's hold of the SEC East. Before Saturday, Atlanta was out of reach for UF due to the Gators' gruesome performances in back-to-back drops against LSU and Missouri. While the Tigers still top the East at 3-1 in the conference, South Carolina sits at No. 2 at 4-2 and both Florida and Georgia hover behind at 3-2. 

The short of it: This weekend's Florida-Georgia showdown is going to hold more weight than was originally anticipated. Both injury-laden teams have similar situations in their contentions for the SEC East. 

Not surprisingly, it's crucial for Florida to emerge from Jacksonville with a win if it wants any shot at the title. 

So, you're telling me there's a chance? 

("Dumb and Dumber" seems appropriate for more reason than one.) 

But, yes. There's a chance. On top of Georgia, Florida has SEC opponents Vanderbilt and South Carolina on the horizon. UF has to come out with wins against those teams, and MU needs to drop two games against SEC foes. Missouri still has Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M left to face. 

Despite the slew of scenarios that remain on the path to Atlanta, the fact that the Gators even can still participate in the battle is a thing in and of itself. This just might be what Florida needs to ignite itself out of a slump and into these late-season victories. 

"We still have hope," Riggs added in his press conference. 

Clearly, South Carolina's upset over Mizzou got Riggs bucked up. Chances are, it's got the rest of Florida up, too. Whether that spark will be extinguished or ignited will be decided against Georgia.