South Carolina's dream season hit a major bump in the road with the shocking 16-13 loss to Auburn. That loss quickly resulted in Stephen Garcia finally being demoted, and Connor Shaw taking over. The result? A resounding 54-3 victory over Kentucky, with Connor Shaw looking like a true starter.
There is a glimmer of hope now, that all can be righted with some big wins in the future, and some help from the opposition.
A BCS bowl bid and SEC Championship isn't out of reach just yet. Here's what needs to happen for the Gamecocks to make a move.
Mississippi State started the season with high expectations, and they have crashed and burned. Offensively, if you stop the running game, you stop the Bulldog offense.
South Carolina's defense should have no problems against Mississippi State.
However, the Bulldog defense will be a stiff test for starter Connor Shaw.
For South Carolina to make a statement, this needs to be (and should be) a big, multi-touchdown win.
Tennesee has played everyone very well. However, if South Carolina can go into Tennessee and come out with a convincing win, the BCS points will add up.
This should be a one sided matchup with the excellent Tyler Bray potentially out of the lineup. Look for South Carolina's defense to make a mockery of the Volunteer offense.
Just win baby.
The words of the late Al Davis fit right here.
It doesn't matter if it is by 14 points or one. The Gamecocks must beat Arkansas this year. Arkansas is legitimately good. They have been dominant on offense, especially with the passing game. They have not missed a beat with Tyler Wilson at quarterback.
He may be better than Ryan Mallet (shhhhh).
This is the game that they absolutely need to win to make some noise. South Carolina actually matches up fairly well against the Razorbacks, as they bring the (currently) 3rd ranked passing defense in the country to the field.
Potentially the battle for the SEC East, however, I believe that battle was won in week two (45-42 win over Georgia).
Florida isn't looking great right now, and this is the perfect opportunity to show who's boss of the SEC East this year. Once again, South Carolina needs to win this one big.
Honestly, there is no reason why they shouldn't, as long as Connor Shaw plays at a good level (and honestly, all of this is under the assumption that Connor Shaw can continue to manage the offense).
A big win is needed here.
The Citadel should be an easy cupcake for South Carolina.
The team needs to blow the Citadel out of the water, and make them want to forget they ever came into The Cockpit. That's what BCS caliber teams do. They blow out FCS programs.
The heated rivalry may be huge if the Gamecocks and Tigers both continue winning. Imagine the pandemonium in the state of South Carolina if a top-5 ranked Tigers team plays a top-10 Gamecock team?
It would be awesome.
The Tigers are trying to avoid losing to their nemesis three years in a row, and the Gamecocks could use a signature win against a highly ranked opponent.
Obviously, South Carolina needs to win out in order to make any sort of impact on the BCS standings. If they do, it doesn't matter how the do in the SEC Championship game—an 11-2 SEC runner up will be in a BCS bowl game.
However, with some help, they could make the national championship game... still. (I know it is a long shot. It's possible, though.)
First, Georgia needs to keep winning and finish the season 10-2 and second in the East. That would make the Bulldogs a top 15 team, and give South Carolina more points for the week two victory.
Then, Auburn needs to bounce back, and at least give one of the top teams in the West (LSU or Alabama) a scare. Auburn needs to win to make the loss that South Carolina has against them look less... awful...
Arkansas and Clemson need to continue to play at a high level, so South Carolina can get the wins against highly ranked opponents.
Finally, in the SEC championship game, South Carolina would have to dig deep and find some way to dismantle the SEC West champion.
If that happens, I believe that a 12-1 SEC champion Gamecock team would leapfrog WHOEVER is in front of them to take on Oklahoma or Wisconsin.
Do I think it will shake out this way? No. Can it? Stranger things have happened.
As always, it's great to be a Gamecock!