There is no reason to believe unranked South Carolina will beat No. 7 and unbeaten Georgia on Saturday.
Except that beating Georgia as a 17-point underdog in Sanford Stadium with a quarterback who was working at a supermarket in August FEELS like a very Steve Spurrier thing to do.
“I think we’ve just been fortunate to get some breaks here and there, and win some close games, lose some close games with them, too,” Spurrier said Tuesday of his history with the Bulldogs.
It’s been way more wins than losses, though, as everyone knows. The Head Ball Coach’s pulling-the-wings-off-a-fly history with Georgia is one of the SEC’s most enduring storylines of the last two decades. He is 16-6 all-time against the Bulldogs and has won four of the last five games his South Carolina teams have played in this series.
“Who knows why sometimes you win a lot of close games against one team and not another team? Sometimes that just happens,” Spurrier said. “No particular reason.”
Really? It has nothing to do any particular animosity Spurrier holds toward the Bulldogs, who dealt him his only conference loss in his Heisman Trophy-winning senior season of 1966?
“No, not really,” Spurrier said.
“When I got the job at Florida, Georgia was the team that was the thorn in the side of the Gators for history,” he added. “I think somebody said that every time the conference championship was on the line that Georgia had won the game. If Georgia was involved in it or if Florida was involved in it, Georgia always won the game. So we needed to change that if we were to ever win an SEC down there. And fortunately, we had a lot better players than they did in the early ’90s there to sort of get an upper hand.”
That talent advantage hasn’t always existed at South Carolina, but he’s 5-5 against Georgia since 2005 nonetheless. A summer ranking by Dawgpost.com named Spurrier the ‘Biggest Villian’ in the Bulldogs’ history, and it’s a hard point to argue.
He ran a late flea flicker late in a 52-17 win in Sanford Stadium in 1995 and made a point afterward to say that he was the first opponent to score more than 50 in that building. He called a fake punt from his own 32-yard line on fourth-and-7 in 2011 that resulted in a 68-yard touchdown run for 270-pound defensive end Melvin Ingram and sparked a 45-42 Gamecocks victory. He won as a 6.5-point favorite last year two weeks after being blown out 52-28 by Texas A&M. His 16 wins are the most by any coach against the Bulldogs.
Spurrier’s favorite memory of his history with Georgia came from his days at Florida, but the Gamecocks figure prominently in the story.
“Without a doubt, the ’92 game,” he said. “We’re playing Georgia, and they’re actually favored.”
Those Bulldogs had Garrison Hearst at tailback, Eric Zeier at quarterback and Andre Hastings at wide receiver, and the Gators were a 5.5-point underdog.
“But if we won the (game) and South Carolina beat Tennessee, we were going to win the Eastern Division,” Spurrier said. “We beat them 26-24, and that was the day South Carolina beat Tennessee 24-23, something like that. So that was a happy day. That was a happy day.”
They mostly have been for Spurrier against the Bulldogs. Hardly anyone expects this Saturday to be one of those, but that scenario has worked out for Spurrier before.
Spurrier vs. Georgia
A by-the-numbers look at Steve Spurrier vs. the Bulldogs:
Spurrier’s wins against Georgia -- the most of any coach. He broke a tie with Auburn’s Shug Jordan last season.
Spurrier’s wins against Georgia while at South Carolina, including winning 4 of the past 5.
Points per game the Gamecocks have averaged vs. Georgia in the past four games.
Wins Spurrier has against Georgia coach Mark Richt in 11 games (one at Florida and 10 at USC).