South Carolina knew it couldn’t get caught in the trap of scoreboard-watching. It wouldn’t have helped anyway, with Georgia-Florida and Tennessee-Missouri playing after the Gamecocks’ game on Saturday.
They can’t worry about the other guys. They just have to take care of their business.
It took a while to get started on Saturday, but they finally did take care of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs’ transformation into a living, breathing turnover gave USC chances and it took advantage of them, winning 34-16 and improving to 5-2 in the SEC.
So what now?
A lot of waiting.
“We’re actually in good shape,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “Hopefully these next three, we can sort of get our act together. Maybe that’ll help us before we play Florida in two weeks. It’s neat being in position and playing the last conference game of the year here at home, possibly to win the division championship.”
The Gamecocks are off next week. Georgia plays Auburn on the same day that USC hosts Florida.
Missouri’s final two games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M are the same dates as USC’s home games against Coastal Carolina and Clemson and might play into the race.
All USC can do is beat Florida and be in the best possible position to play in Atlanta. Figuring out the SEC tiebreakers is tougher than a two-dollar steak, but the Gamecocks know that if they don’t beat the Gators, it’s all lost anyway.
The game will also be for a record-breaker, that of notching a 16th straight victory at home. It adds to the intrigue, one that already has plenty of it. The Gamecocks have known the past two years that it was going to take a miracle (like Kentucky beating Georgia) to have a chance at Atlanta.
Now, there’s a real shot at it.
“It is neat that we’re in the hunt for the division going into the last (conference) game of the season,” Spurrier said.