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Winning in The Swamp: Been there, done that
“Do you really think South Carolina can beat Florida in The Swamp?”
A little over six years ago, I found myself in a bar in Jacksonville following Florida’s 34-31 win over Georgia in the formerly World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
With the way Florida and South Carolina’s 2010 schedules were shaking out, it was obvious that the 2010 SEC East representative would be decided by the upcoming USC-UF tilt.
Engaged in what I thought was a friendly conversation with a Florida fan, the orange-and-blue clad fellow shifted his tone, put his arm around my shoulder and went on to explain why the Gamecocks had no chance against the superior Gators.
Not only did the Gamecocks win. They dominated the Gators, winning 36-14 on the legs of then-freshman RB Marcus Lattimore and his 40 carries for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The win was a complete-and-utter game changer for South Carolina. The program’s first SEC East division title and third conference/division crown overall. The pride and in-your-face joy I felt that night was just awesome.
Fast-forward to 2016 and here we are again. The circumstances are a little different. The Gamecocks’ path to Atlanta is just a tad more complicated than it was in 2010, but the question remains the same: Do you really think South Carolina can beat Florida in The Swamp?
Win one for Will
Though he may not admit it publicly, you know coach Will Muschamp has had this game against Florida circled on his calendar since he took over in Columbia. Well, if he hasn’t, many fans have — including yours truly.
For the reasons I detailed above, the Gators have long drawn my ire. And with their former head coach righting the ship for the Gamecocks, it sure would be sweet to deal the Gators’ division hopes a knockout blow on Saturday.
It sounds like South Carolina players share this sentiment.
“He keeps saying it is just another game,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “For a sense of pride, I know deep down, he would love for us to get it. I don’t think he’s going to say much about it. I would like to go down there and do it for him.”
Hurst has his own reasons for wanting to beat Florida, but South Carolina’s roundabout path to the Georgia Dome starts with a win in Gainesville. And that should be motivation enough.
In case you missed it
- Muschamp compares his time at Florida to freshman year of college, from The Big Spur.
- South Carolina is the champion the SEC East deserves.
- Gamecock Central says Florida will be QB Jake Bentley’s toughest test yet.
- Gamecocks players see defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson in brother-like way, says The State.
- According to ESPN, the young Gamecocks are ahead of schedule:
Muschamp said he’s not going to go over all of the scenarios with his team because none of it matters if the Gamecocks don’t win. Regardless, Muschamp deserves credit for making the kind of progress with his squad that few outside the program — and maybe even the coach himself — expected in his debut season in Columbia. At SEC media days, the Gamecocks were predicted to finish last in the East.
- The Post and Courier on how left guard Zack Bailey has become a ‘devastating force’ on the Gamecocks’ line.
- South Carolina’s most important commitments for 2017.
— #ArmyBowl (@ArmyAllAmerican) November 9, 2016
- Garnet & Black Attack sets expectations for the men’s basketball team. With the Gamecocks’ beefed up nonconference schedule, fans should have a good beat on this team early in the season.
- Coach Frank Martin is ready for his fifth season with the Gamecocks.
- Women’s basketball signed two top-50 prospects on Wednesday.
— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) November 9, 2016
— Gamecock Baseball (@GamecockBasebll) November 5, 2016
Days after being honored at halftime of the Mizzou game, the baseball team had another great day on Wednesday. Eleven of the team’s 16 commitments sent in National Letters of Intent. Gamecock Central with a closer look:
The day was full of positive emotions with years of hard work coming to fruition as players inked Division-I baseball deals. (Cam) Tringali, who plays at Cardinal Newman, said signing was an “absolute dream come true. It was pretty cool to be able to share it with all those people too.”
The nonrev report
- Women’s diving swept Clemson on Wednesday.
- Men’s soccer lost 2-1 to Old Dominion in the C-USA quarterfinals. The team should receive an at-large bid when the NCAA tournament bracket is announced on Monday.
— ABC Columbia (@abc_columbia) November 10, 2016
Are the Rubber Chickens reading too much into the tea leaves? The pessimist in me says no.
Gators by 60 https://t.co/5PIntOE7xQ
— TRC (@RubrChickens) November 9, 2016
He really has done a phenomenal job.
Will Muschamp is one win away from taking the worst South Carolina football roster in 18 years to a bowl game in his first year.
— Violence (@PhilKenSaban) November 5, 2016
Picturing this makes the Sunday Night Football theme a little more bearable.
— BUFFALO CHILL CODY (@edsbs) November 7, 2016
Oh, look! More praise for Jake Bentley!
— Adam Gorney (@adamgorney) November 10, 2016
My favorite part of the Bentley buzz is reading the replies from the … ahem, haters.
10. Michael Pinckney, Miami
9. Lorenzo Harrison, Maryland
8. Jake Bentley, USC
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) November 9, 2016