In my 43 years of being a Gamecock, I can think of only one time when I believed we would win 12 games in a football season. That of course was 1984 and I felt that way for all of one week. We had just beaten Florida State to get to 9-0 and a #2 national ranking in the AP. The upset loss the next week in Annapolis crushed my 13-year old heart even worse than the loss at Clemson in 1980.
After that brief moment of sunny optimism was darkened by the Middies, I vowed never to get my hopes up too high. Heck, even since then when I really would get myself hyped up for an individual game it seemed to jinx us. The home loss to Auburn and the road loss at Gainesville two years ago spring to mind. So you can see why I am practically petrified that I find myself (gasp) feeling really good about this fall.
I think my upbeat feeling about this season stems from one opinion I have: We’re never going to have a more manageable SEC schedule than this one. We have the Aggies, Jawja, Mizzou and the Vols all in Columbia and Kentucky and Vandy as two of our road trips. Before anyone screams out “AUBURN” or “FLORIDA” I get that. My answer is that if we’re waiting for a “perfect” SEC slate it just isn’t going to happen.
We don’t play in the ACC (Aunt Cindy Conference). This ain’t FSU and the 13 dwarves. This is big-boy football every week and we’re going to have some tough matchups. At the very least, this is arguably the best chance we’re going to have to win the East again. Next year we go to Pup-land, to Mizzou, to Knoxville and to Kyle Field and we have LSU reappearing.
I’ll put words to a feeling many Carolina fans have that needs to be acknowledged: We don’t have to beat Auburn. Some teams just seem to have your number and they seem to have ours. And as the Head Ball Coach has taught us, focusing on a team too much leads to more losses to them. (Just ask old Dabbles about that).
So while I am saying up front that I have some happy juice in me this fall for some reason, it is what it is. I think the stars have aligned a bit for us this year and we’re going to win the East. Too much Splenda in my Iced Tea you say? Maybe. The good news is that we’ll know pretty quickly if our optimism is warranted. Try the first three home games against A&M, ECU and UGA. If we’re not 3-0 at the quarter-mark, uh-oh is all I have to say. But….run the trifecta and all of a sudden we could be 7-0 and on a 13-game winning streak headed to the Plains.
If it’s ever going to happen, this could be the year. It is a great time to be a Gamecock~!