David Cloninger

South Carolina vs. Western Carolina: 5 gameday storylines

1. WESTERN WHO?

Nothing about Saturday is about the opponent. It’s all about South Carolina. The Gamecocks are one win from bowl eligibility and would double last season’s win output with a victory, which is a huge accomplishment for this team. They’d also like to win comfortably to gain confidence before that game next week.

2. SO LONG

The Gamecocks will honor 21 seniors Saturday. They include redshirt juniors Rod Talley, Rivers Bedenbaugh and Benji Russell. Will Muschamp said on his call-in show that when USC wins a championship – and it will win a championship, he said – this senior group will be known as the foundation.

3. BLOCK AND TACKLE

They were USC’s two biggest problems at Florida, and not exactly the kind of thing that gets fixed in a week. But USC at least has a good opponent to try and do it against – the Catamounts are 2-8, 1-7 in the Southern Conference. The Cats’ offensive numbers are better across the board than USC’s.

4. APPRECIATION

The season’s not over but Muschamp deserves a long round of applause for the job he’s done this year. Taking over a 3-9 team that lost its two best players and guiding it to the threshold of a bowl game is a tremendous accomplishment. He has my vote for SEC Coach of the Year, because even though Nick Saban will most likely go undefeated with a crop of future NFL’ers, nobody did more with less than Muschamp.

5. ORANGE ON THE HORIZON

Get through this one and the Gamecocks can focus on their most important task every year. They immediately need to channel every thought and action toward playing their absolute best next week. It may be a million-to-one shot, but that chance is still there, isn’t it? And how glorious (edit: hilarious) would it be to knock the stripes off the Tigers and keep them from the playoff?

FIVE NUMBERS

▪  25: What South Carolina’s winning streak against non-Clemson non-conference opponents would be if not for The Citadel last year. As it is now, the streak is two.

▪  20: Bowl games in USC history. The Gamecocks can make it 21 by winning Saturday.

▪  23: Turnovers USC has forced this season.

▪  21: Seniors that will be honored today, including three redshirt juniors.

▪  301: Days until USC’s next home game.

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