GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For all the talk about Will Muschamp’s return to Gainesville on Saturday, it was another facet of the game that meant the most to the Gamecocks.
South Carolina wanted to succeed on its first try at sealing a postseason berth, and beating Florida would have done that. It also would have kept the Gamecocks in the mix for an SEC East title and a trip to Atlanta to play in the SEC title game.
“We kinda preached the issue this week,” cornerback Jamarcus King said. “We wanted to get bowl eligible in this game.”
The game the Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5 SEC) wanted to win to reach the 6-win plateau is behind them. Now, the game they need to win to guarantee a .500 regular-season record and a bowl appearance awaits Saturday. South Carolina hosts 2-8 Western Carolina, an FCS opponent that looked to be the surest win when USC entered the season with so much uncertainty.
It still looks that way, but the level of importance is different now and the Gamecocks surely know it. A loss would leave them needing a win at Clemson in the season finale to reach the 6-win mark, which looks like a tall task even after the Tigers’ loss to Pitt on Saturday.
Muschamp addressed the importance of getting a win to seal a bowl game on Sunday night during his weekly teleconference.
“The most important thing we need to do is send these seniors out with a win,” Muschamp said. “I told the team this is a very important game for us, this weekend we will approach it that way and come in the building Tuesday morning ready to work.”
It’s a matter of putting the win they wanted and didn’t get in the past and focusing ahead. The Gamecocks looked over the film Sunday and got a chance to see the mistakes that need to be corrected because Saturday’s game against Western Carolina borders on a must-win.
“We didn’t get our goals accomplished (Saturday),” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “But we have to go out this week and play good against a good Western Carolina team, get win No. 6 and get our seniors to a bowl game.”