South Carolina can notch 10 wins for just the second time in school history Friday.
The only other time the Gamecocks did it, in 1984, a victory over Florida State was among the total as well. Joe Morrison’s team finished 10-2 that season, and it moved to 9-0 with a 38-26 home win over the Seminoles.
South Carolina dropped its next game 38-21 at Navy before beating Clemson 22-21 to get to what is still a magic number in Columbia.
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More milestones for Marcus?
South Carolina’s freshman running back already has set the school’s touchdowns and freshman rushing records with 19 scores and 1,198 rushing yards. With one touchdown Friday, he’ll tie former Tennessee running back Reggie Cobb for most touchdowns scored by an SEC freshman.
Lattimore is the first non-placekicker to lead the Gamecocks in scoring since Sidney Rice did it in 2005, and he has scored 40 percent of South Carolina’s touchdowns this year.
Thunder and lightning
While South Carolina puts all its rushing game on Lattimore’s shoulders, Florida State spreads the ball around.
The Seminoles have used as many as five tailbacks in one game this season, although in the last three outings sophomore Chris Thompson and junior Ty Jones have carried much of the load. Thompson, 5-8, 185 pounds, is a speedster who had a 90-yard scoring run against Miami earlier this year. His 6.4-yard per carry average is the best by a Florida State featured back since Leon Washington averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2004. Jones is a 5-10, 210-pound power back.
Whether or not the Gamecocks have moved past their SEC championship game defeat appears to depend on which player you ask.
South Carolina was whipped 56-17 by Auburn in its last game in the Georgia Dome almost four weeks ago.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia said this week that that game is completely in the past, however offensive lineman T.J. Jones and defensive lineman Travian Robertson both said at a bowl week press conference that they would “never forget” the feeling of being beaten that badly by the Tigers.
South Carolina has not been in the final Associated Press Top 25 ranking of the season since 2001, and it probably won’t be again if it loses to the Seminoles.
While a close loss might leave the Gamecocks, who are currently 19th, in the rankings, the only way to ensure a spot is with a win. For a school that is hopeful its program is turning a corner, that would be a good first step.
It also will put the team in position to be ranked higher in next season’s preseason poll.