The new Associated Press Top 25 came out Tuesday, and South Carolina folks were hoping their team would move up from its preseason No. 6 ranking.
Despite a solid 27-10 victory against North Carolina, however, the Gamecocks stayed in the same spot, even though No. 5 Georgia lost to No. 8 Clemson last weekend.
Instead it was the rival Tigers making the big move in the poll, leapfrogging Texas A&M, USC, Georgia and Stanford to No. 4. While Clemson’s defensive play was lacking at times, the Tigers found a way to post an exciting win as a home underdog in front of a national television audience in the only Top 10 matchup of the weekend.
All of that resonated with the AP voters, who also saw quarterback Tajh Boyd insert himself near the top of the Heisman Trophy race with a big game.
If any of that doesn’t sit right with USC supporters, well, the Gamecocks have a chance to have their own statement game Saturday when they travel to Athens to face Georgia in another nationally televised affair. So does defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, USC’s Heisman Trophy candidate.
Although the Bulldogs dropped to No. 11 in the poll, they remain a formidable opponent for South Carolina, which enters the game as a three-point underdog. That presents a better opportunity for the Gamecocks to build their case for a higher ranking. Last season, they jumped from No. 6 to No. 3 in the AP poll after soundly defeating the Bulldogs 35-7.
Subsequent losses to LSU and Florida bumped USC out of that rarefied air a year ago, but the schedule sets up more favorably this season for the Gamecocks to maintain a spot around the Top 5.
Plus, they’ll get their crack at Clemson at the end of the regular season. Who knows? Maybe they’ll both be undefeated and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the poll when late November rolls around.