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Could this finally be USC's year?: Young talent chases elusive SEC title

The last time South Carolina beat Clemson under Steve Spurrier's watch, the Head Ball Coach pointed to the 2006 win as a watershed moment and sold commemorative game balls on the Gamecock Club tour the following spring.

USC promptly went 6-6 the next year and missed a bowl game.

So it is understandable Spurrier made no such proclamations after the Gamecocks' 34-17 win over their rivals this season.

But if USC is to challenge for an SEC title under Spurrier, 2010 could be as good a time as any.

While quarterback Stephen Garcia, the SEC's second-leading passer in '09, will be back for his junior year, the three teams ahead of USC in the East - Florida, Tennessee and Georgia - will have new quarterbacks.

USC's talented freshmen Stephon Gilmore and Alshon Jeffery will be a year older, and the Gamecocks have a good shot at landing Byrnes tailback Marcus Lattimore, ranked among the top 10 prospects in the country.

What's more, after going 0-4 on the road in '09, USC's schedule flips next season - meaning the Gamecocks will get Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas at home.

Don't book your rooms in Atlanta, yet. But don't be surprised if the Gamecocks are in the hunt for an SEC East crown in '10.