2010 has been the year some predicted for the Gamecocks. It has been the year that some predicted could never happen. The Gamecocks are the champions of the SEC East. They have the opportunity to be the SEC Champions, and they have the opportunity win 11 games.
One has to ask, that at this point, is it BCS or bust? I can't say that it is, but it is very, very close. A trip to the Sugar Bowl would crowd Bourbon Street with Garnet to say the very least. The Gamecocks fans travel well, and with their first chance to see their team compete in a BCS bowl, they will be out in droves.
South Carolina is widely regarded as having one of the best fan bases in the country. Between Brad Scott's final season as head coach and the end of Lou Holtz first season, the Gamecocks lost 21 straight games, but the fans still came.
With arch-rival Clemson coming up Thanksgiving weekend, and the SEC Championship game one week ahead, there's a lot on the line. The Gamecocks want to beat their rival, and they want the SEC Crown. A win on the road at Clemson would be a great momentum builder heading into Atlanta.
To defeat two sets of Tigers would guarantee a season with double digits in the win column, and the opportunity for an 11th. Many have viewed this as an impossibility, but over the last three weeks, things have changed.
The Gamecocks and their coaching staff have taken a different approach. They practice differently, they play differently and they even carry themselves differently. The approach started immediately following the embarrassment at the hands of Arkansas—the only home loss the Gamecocks suffered this season.
Monday's are light work, film study has been handled differently and the head ball coach took back the play-calling duties. Marcus Lattimore was handed the bigger role he has to have. Spurrier stopped panicking and going to the pass with one or two negative running plays.
This Gamecock team has also played its best football when the lights are on bright and the attention is on them. They were looking ahead to Florida against Arkansas, when they were ear beaten by the media saying "The Arkansas game was meaningless."
The Clemson game always means something to the players, to the fans and to the coaches. The SEC Championship is without a doubt the biggest game in the history of the University of South Carolina. If they win the SEC Championship game, the Sugar Bowl becomes the biggest game.
This Gamecock team can climb to the top of the mountain in the next six weeks. They could also bottom out and go back to where they are "comfortable," which is somewhere in the middle. This is a seemingly different team. A team with a drive and a focus.
For the first time in quite some time, it is absolutely unquestionable that this team, from top to bottom is giving the effort required. Losing players to injury and other problems may have slowed the Gamecocks down at times, but they've found a rallying point.
The Gamecocks players, and the University have tried to spur on change (pun intended), and it's now taking shape. The Garnet Way is a program and a slogan the school has pushed as of late. The players themselves started the "New Carolina" movement.
The Gamecocks saw eight times through 2010 what the New Carolina can be. To keep the New Carolina alive, the Gamecocks will have to do things the Garnet way. The new, better way they've carried themselves and played this season.
Marcus Lattimore is the Gamecocks MVP. If an argument can be made against that, I'd like to hear it. He's the biggest recruit the program has landed. He's the most impactful freshman the program has ever had. He cares what the Gamecocks do, and he's motivated to be a part of it.
Marcus Lattimore will continue to grow and get better. Many have speculated that he will be in preseason Heisman talks in 2011 and rightfully so. He will grow into a larger leadership role and will be the face of the program. Marcus Lattimore is undeniably a "Program Changer."
With last week's incredibly convincing victory over Troy, the seniors on the team played their last game at Williams Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks fans will always support their own. Those players will always be Gamecocks, and for those seniors, the Gamecocks fans are grateful for making 2010 a season none of us will ever forget.