Before I get into my take on the Florida game and where we go moving forward, I want to remind everyone of what I said before the horrible 3-game gauntlet we were tossed by the SEC. From my column on September 24:
“I don’t know many rational Gamecock fans who are guaranteeing we will win all three, but I can also say I don’t know many rational Gamecock haters who are putting down big money that we will lose all three either. If we’re going to reach our goals this year, we will have to win two. “
And of course those words were true. For us to win the conference championship, realistically we needed to win two of those games. It didn’t happen that way so that goal is no longer something over which we have control.
How Carolina handles these two losses is almost as important as it was to try and win the games in the first place. We can either pout, shoot the bird at the SEC because no one else had to play three top-10 teams in a row with no open date, including two in a row on the road, OR we can put it behind us, beat Tennessee and be the kind of team we know we are to close the season.
Yes, Florida and Georgia were both given much easier hands to play with than the Gamecocks. No rational person with a brain stem would say otherwise. The Gators got both us and LSU at home and had a game in between to get ready. Georgia doesn’t play anyone of substance in the West at all and only had to beat either us or Florida to win the East.
But that’s the way it was and yes it bit us for the 2nd year in a row. So hopefully karma will give us a break in the next few years on the schedule side and that wheel will turn. If our program stays at a high level it eventually will. In the meantime, we better not play around with the rest of our 2012 schedule because we’re sour. What’s left you ask?
- A win over Tennessee means that we would have a winning record against the “Big 3” in the East for the third straight season for the first time ever. (We also would have gone 14-2 against the East overall in three seasons!)
- We have a real chance to stop the bleeding over Arkansas. They are down and I don’t care what anyone says about it. A win over the Hogs would be a win over the Hogs!
- Winning out would give us our 2nd 10-win regular season in a row, after only 1 in our history before that. For those who want to be negative and tear this down due to the addition of the 12th game, fine. Even without that game, it would still be the first time I can recall of at least three seasons where we win at least 9 games.
- A win over Clemson this season would give us a 4-game winning streak over the Tigers for the first time in my life.
- If we finish the season at 11-2, this Senior Class would leave USC with an overall record of 38-15, an SEC East Championship, 20 regular season SEC victories, a 20-13 overall SEC record (including the championship game loss to Auburn), and an unbeaten record against Clemson.
So yeah we’re all down about the last two weeks, but it’s time to get over it and focus on Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford and Clemson. Too much is still at stake to let the rest of the season slip away. What a great time to be a Gamecock!