In 1984, South Carolina defeated Florida State 38-26 to move to 9-0 and a #2 national ranking. The following week, we lost to a Navy team that had won two or three games by 17 points. In 1988, we defeated Virginia Tech to run our record to 6-0 and a #6 national ranking. The following week, we lost to a terrible Georgia Tech team by 34 points. In In 2000, we beat Mississippi State to get to 4-0 in the very exciting “fade” game. The following week, we were flat in Tuscaloosa and lost to Alabama.
I understand these games, circumstances and years were all different, but there is one bond there that better be on our minds as we head to Baton Rouge. If we are flat in any way following the big win over Georgia, we’ll get clipped by LSU. Before anyone screams out that it is ridiculous to think we would be headed to the real Death Valley, hear me out. You all know that Spurrier cannot stand Georgia and no matter what he says, he finds that extra gear for coaching against them. You also all know that the Florida game will always be an emotional roller coaster for him. Again, I KNOW we’ll be focused and ready for that one in two weeks.
Then there is this trip to LSU. Yes, yes, I understand that we would need to win every game if we’re going to be in the national title conversation. But our players are getting earful after earful as we speak about how awesome they are and how wonderful our team is. The national media overnight went from completely doubting the Gamecocks to being completely on our bandwagon. Instantly. That stuff is NOT easy to just put aside when you’re talking about preparation for the next game.
Get Carolina out of the conversation and it’s easier to see my point. Florida just got a monster signature win at home over LSU and the national media has rocketed the Gators up to #4 in a flash. I will guarantee you they come out flat at Vandy. That game is going to be much closer than it should be. And we don’t get to play Vandy. We’re playing LSU and they are going to be 8 ways of ticked off all week. Unlike the tongue bath we’re getting from the media, the Tigers are hearing about what a disappointment they are and how they have mailed in this season.
I’m just being honest with my opinion here. Under the lights on the road facing an angry or desperate opponent while you’re flying high is not the ideal week. The good news is that we have a coaching staff that has the capability to get us through this. Let’s hope that happens so we can have the next SEC game of century/week in Gainesville as a reward.
It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!