It’s not called Cupcake Saturday for nothing.
Take a look at this schedule across the SEC – Western Carolina at South Carolina, UTSA at Texas A&M, Louisiana-Lafayette at Georgia, Alabama A&M at Auburn, UT-Chattanooga at Alabama and Austin Peay at Kentucky. Florida and LSU would have gimme games, too, if not for a rescheduling forced by Hurricane Matthew that has them playing this weekend.
The habit of playing a payday game (the payday being for the sacrificial lambs who come to SEC stadiums) the week before the end-of-year rivalry game is fairly new. Until 2009, the Gamecocks will still playing the old Orange Crush scheduled in November (Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Clemson).
South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp wanted no part of discussing scheduling Tuesday.
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“Because of the way they schedule so far out now, it's kind of out of your hands as a coach,” Muschamp said. “It's a very hard thing to do, especially when a lot of schools now, the money is going up and up and up as far as wanting a payoff to come to Williams-Brice to play.”
Of course, it’s not like the underdog hasn’t had some success in these games of late. The Citadel beat South Carolina last year, and Georgia Southern topped Muschamp’s Florida team in 2013.
“It made it real for some guys,” South Carolina offensive lineman Mason Zandi said of The Citadel loss. “If they think, 'Oh we're a big Division 1 program, we're the SEC, we should stomp these guys.' Yeah we should, but it's real, you can lose any given Saturday. That's the stress. You come out with mental focus every single day. It's important.”
Even on Cupcake Saturday.