COLUMBIA, S.C.—South Carolina's Gamecocks have two words for Auburn.
Georgia's 23-20 over Florida on Saturday leaves the Gamecocks hoping for an Auburn victory over the Bulldogs at Auburn on Nov. 15 to help simplify South Carolina's path to an SEC East title.
Well, make that Auburn and any SEC foe Missouri happens to be playing.
Make no mistake about it, Spurrier was hoping Florida was going to get it done. Earlier in the week, he was asked about pulling for the Gators against Georgia and said, "Well, I'd be doing that anyway."
After South Carolina's 34-16 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, the Gamecocks' (7-2, 5-2 SEC) way forward is simple.
Win the final conference game Nov. 15 at home against Florida and get some help elsewhere. A Georgia loss to Auburn and one more loss by Missouri to any conference team would do the trick.
That would leave the Gamecocks and Missouri in a tie, with the Gamecocks earning the SEC East title on the head-to-head, thanks to their victory over Missouri.
Neither South Carolina nor Georgia wants any part of a three-way tie with Missouri. The only way the Tigers have a chance to lose out on a three-way tie is if their only other loss comes next week against Kentucky, a highly improbable scenario.
Kentucky, for that matter, finds itself in a unique position as spoiler. The Wildcats play both Missouri and Georgia down the stretch and can ruin the season for either or both.
After next week's game at Kentucky, Missouri is at Ole Miss before wrapping up the SEC season at home against Texas A&M.
Things set up somewhat favorably for the Gamecocks in some respects. They get an extra week to prepare for the Gators, who have a nonconference game with Georgia Southern next week.
However, after watching his Gamecocks struggle offensively in Saturday's victory over Mississippi State, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier probably believes his team will need every bit of the extra preparation time.
South Carolina finished with a season-low 307 yards in total offense. The Gamecocks were a horrific 1-of-11 on third-down conversions and punted eight times.
Saving the day against Mississippi State was a Gamecock defense that forced five turnovers on three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
South Carolina scored 20 points off turnovers.
Bottom line, the Gamecocks won and kept themselves in the chase in the SEC East.
"We're in good shape and in good health," Spurrier said. "Hopefully we can sort of get our act together. I think we need to practice a little tougher. Maybe that will help us when we play Florida in two weeks. It's neat being in position, playing the last conference game of the year here at home with a possibility of a division championship. It's neat we're in the hunt going into the last (conference) game of the season."
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise indicated.
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