South Carolina has a chance to do more than defeat the nation's No. 1-ranked team Saturday.
A win over Alabama could also give the Gamecocks a noteworthy victory in recruiting. Since Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide have averaged top-five recruiting classes, including two first-place finishes.
Some of that success has come at the expense of USC, which saw Palmetto state natives like John Fulton (Manning) and Chris Bonds (Columbia) spurn their home-state team for Alabama.
If the Gamecocks are going to compete for SEC championships, both in the division and overall, most recruiting analysts believe they'll need to do a better job of sealing their borders and keeping the best players in state. They successfully did that against Alabama's fiercest rival earlier this year, winning a recruiting battle for tailback Marcus Lattimore over Auburn.
The Tigers have also become a significant factor in recruiting, but they still lack the dynamism of Saban and his staff. The Crimson Tide have successfully identified and signed most of the players they've sought throughout the Southeast over the last few years.
A win Saturday could help the Gamecocks keep Saban and Co. from raiding the state. It could also give them at least a fleeting edge in the state of Georgia, an important battleground state in recruiting for both programs.
Alabama and USC are currently battling for several South Carolina prep players, including Lake City tailback Shon Carson, Manning defensive tackle Phillip Dukes, Goose Creek offensive tackle Brandon Shell and Scott's Branch athlete Jerrell Adams. Other players still considering USC, including Marlboro County linebacker Lateek Townsend, have offers from the Crimson Tide.
And they want to see how much ground the Gamecocks have made up on the SEC's elite.
"It's really important ... because this is such a big game," said Townsend, who is taking an unofficial visit for the game. "I really want to see them win.
"If [USC] won, it would mean a whole lot [in terms of my decision]. If they lost, it's not really going to affect my decision. ... These are two great teams. I just want to see South Carolina's defense against Alabama's offense."
USC is expected to host a number of quality junior and senior prospects for both unofficial and official visits this weekend. The coaching staff will have to juggle its actual game preparations with the hosting of elite recruits.
The Gamecocks know that no matter how great those visits go, they likely won't have the lasting impact that a victory would.
“Unfortunately you only hear from some of these guys when the big time teams roll into town," USC recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer said.
“It’s not a distraction. Robbie Liles does a great job of handling the official visits and getting the schedules straight and handling a lot of that stuff. We as coaches can focus on the game and spend time with those recruits. With the game time being what it is, we will be able to spend some time with them afterwards and on Sunday as well. It's not a distraction."