Well, the SEC East race is playing right into Steve Spurrier’s wheelhouse all of a sudden.
Not only is South Carolina right back in the mix, although the Gamecocks still do not control their own destiny, but the rooting interests all line up just right for Spurrier, whose natural inclination is to root for his alma mater Florida when the Gators aren’t playing South Carolina.
That’s exactly what all Gamecock fans need to be doing now. The next five weeks of Florida’s schedule will have as much bearing on the Gamecocks’ season as anything South Carolina does. The Gators take on division-leading Missouri this weekend in Columbia, Mo., then have an off week before facing Georgia. If Florida wins both of those games, then the Nov. 16 game between South Carolina and the Gators in Williams-Brice Stadium will almost certainly determine the SEC East champion.
Obviously, South Carolina has to keep winning to make all this relevant – and a mind-boggling three-way or even four-way tie remains possible in the division (at which point, frankly, don’t look at me for answers, the tiebreaker format makes my eyes cross just looking at it) – but the simplest thing for South Carolina fans to do right now is work on their “Go Gators” chant for the next two weeks and then get ready to boo the blue and orange right off that same team on Nov. 16.
The Tigers have yet to confirm a CBSSports.com report that its starting quarterback James Franklin will miss at least six weeks due to the separated shoulder he suffered against Georgia, but it sounds like there is zero chance Franklin plays against the Gators this week or the Gamecocks the next in the two most important games in the Tigers’ season.
“He’s going to be out a few weeks,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said on his Sunday television show. “We don’t know the length of that yet. I’m not going to just throw numbers out there. Anything you see out there is not accurate, because we haven’t even talked about it yet. I just said he’d be out a few weeks. We’ll get the accuracy of that probably in the next 48 hours.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt made a good point Sunday about the division race – It may simply come down to the last man standing.
“It might be who can handle the adversity the best,” he said. “Who can find a way to win, who can fight and scratch and figure out a way? That’s probably what it’s going to come down to.”
Meanwhile, as the Gamecocks and Bulldogs and Tigers and Gators try to figure out the jumbled race at the top of the division, Tennessee is just trying to figure out how to survive at the bottom. The Volunteers host South Carolina on Saturday then play at Alabama and at Missouri. There is no guarantee Tennessee (0-2 SEC) will win a conference game this year. It will have had two weeks to prepare for the Gamecocks, but there’s a feeling its valiant but futile fight against Georgia may have been the Vols’ last stand.