Getting Chilly in Columbia?

South Carolina vs. Tennessee | 30 Oct 2010 | Williams-Brice Stadium

12:21pm EDT | SEC Network and ESPN3.com

It’s that time of year again, the time when the chill in the autumn air normally brings a chill in the backbone of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

It isn’t the first time USC has entered the final stretch of a season with a very decent record. But, this year’s 5-and-2 Gamecock squadron looks bigger than past garnet-and-black forces, mostly because of Florida’s failures. Perhaps that’s not totally fair to USC’s steadily improving program, albeit a program that has made their improvements at a glacial pace. South Carolina has no-kidding quality at key slots this year.

*****

Freshman sensation Marcus Lattimore nursed a sprained ankle last week instead of doing his running thing against the hapless Vandy Commodores. After Lattimore hit the sideline with his ankle boo-boo two weeks ago at Kentucky, the Gamecocks proceeded to give away a big lead, eventually the game, and who knows, perhaps the SEC East title. Rushing for 10 TD’s and adding two more via pass receptions, the Duncan, SC native has given South Carolina realistic big-time hope it hasn’t had in an uncountable number of years. His return to the Gamecock offense gives USC an almost certain win on Saturday against the hapless Vols.

The other story for the Gamecock offense is quarterback Stephen Garcia to receiver Alshon Jeffery.  In Nashville last week, Garcia threw 31-for-39 and 339 yards. After two seasons that made it appear the Florida junior wasn’t going to blossom under the long shadow of coach Steve Spurrier, watching him perform against powers Alabama and Auburn (even though USC lost at Auburn, Garcia had his highest game QB rating of the season) has quieted the Palmetto natives’ talk about wanting to see Spurrier retire to the nearest golf course. Such hand-wringing has died to a faint whisper in the most ardent critics’ memories. Jeffrey, with one big play after another, is making folks think he is the best receiving talent in the conference, even above Randall Cobb, although Vol fans’ witnessing of Julio Jones‘ record-breaking performance last week provides a tough act to follow.

But, an unmistakable anchor for South Carolina’s success on the field this season has been their defense. The Gamecocks nationally rank 13th in rushing defense and 27th in scoring defense. Sophomore sackmaster Devin Taylor has eight solo sacks, six additional stops for a loss in yards, and 34 solo tackles. Devin should continue to have his fun this Saturday.

*****

The latter stretches of Gamecock seasons have not been pleasant for South Carolinians (except perhaps for Clemsonites). Beginning with the Tennessee game every end of October, USC is 9-13 during that stretch of games over the last five seasons, excluding bowl games. Who can forget the 2007 campaign when the Gamecocks were 6-1, and after consecutive losses to Vandy and Tennessee, USC ran the table and finished out at 6-6. Such history should give the Gamecock-faithful pause for serious thought coming into this week’s game against the Vols.

Surely, South Carolina fans are finding it hard to believe that they are double-digit favorites against a team who they have defeated only thee times since joining the SEC (3-15). Once a bit of chill hits the air, dread must hang thick in the Columbia atmosphere.

If the Gamecocks are once again going to crash and burn this season, it will not begin this Saturday against your big orange. There will be lots of treats for the locals in Columbia this Halloween weekend.

Lots.

South Carolina 44 Tennessee 16

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6 responses to “Getting Chilly in Columbia?”

  1. bert says :

    in honor of steve spurrier, you can’t spell
    “suck” without usc…

    however, that bein’ said, unfortunately
    i think this is the game that alshon
    jeffery pays back UT for douchebag
    kiffin’s “pumpin’ gas” comment…

    combine him with lattimore and as long
    as garcia doesn’t gag this won’t be close…

    usc 48
    ut 10

  2. rockytop78 says :

    Left-side brain prediction: South Carolina 38, Tennessee 13

    Right-side brain prediction: South Carolina 23, Tennessee 27

  3. tk says :

    BY 4 PM THE HALLOWEEN MASSACARE SHOULD BE OVER. IM NOT QUITE AS BRUTAL AS SOME OF YOU BUT THIS ONE IS DOWN THE TUBES BEFORE IT STARTS. THIS GAME I BELIEVE WILL ALSO START SOME MUMBLINGS QUESTIONING THE COACHING STAFF. NOT SAYING THAT IS WARRANTED AT ALL BUT I BELIEVE THIS GAME WILL HAVE THOSE WHO ARENT REALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO THE TEAMS PROBLEMS TO START REARING THEIR COMMENTS. BUT THATS PART OF THE GAME, PART OF THE ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACKS AND PART OF SOMETHING FOR THE MEDIA TO FEAST ON. BUT BACK TO THE GAME AT HAND. I THINK THIS ONE REALLY WILL BE A HALLOWEEN MONSTER MASH (THERES A SONG OPPORTUNITY FRED!!!!) GAMECOCKS 33-VOLS 16

  4. Billy (CW) Smart says :

    Tennessee will have a very tough game. I’m gonna have to go with SC-38 UT-14.

  5. SS says :

    Well, as with most everyone else, my pre-season prediction at this point was 2-6, which is what it is.

    My thought was that the team would have grown from the experience and go on a roll and win the remaining 4 games to become bowl eligible.

    So, do I hold to that thought?

    I’m not convinced South Carolina is the juggernaut they are being made out to be. They did beat Alabama and gave Auburn a very tough game. Then again, they gave one away to Kentucky… although the main factor in that was the loss of their freshman running back, Lattimore.

    But, then again, the lack of depth with UT has proven to be a rather large problem.

    Will the Gamecocks come out dressed in all black like the Vols did last year? That would lose some impact with a noon start rather than an evening game.

    I think this will cause the ‘Cocks to come out a bit flat. The Vols stay with them in the early going, just as they have in the previous games. The Vols almost pulled out a stunner against LSU. No reason they can’t do it this time.

    I’m going against the grain, sticking with my pre-season prediction, and say the Vols win a close one, 31-28.

    (But I won’t be surprised if all of you are right, and the Orange get blown out).

  6. DW says :

    I just finished reading all of Fred’s commentaries, reflections, history lessons, stat sheet links and logical explanation of how this won’t be a happy ending… so it’s hard to explain why I’m not feeling gloomy, nervous or disheartened. Maybe it’s the sugar high from those Honey Nut Cheerios this morning, or the kicking bluegrass channel playing while I type, or maybe it’s because I’m gonna wear the big orange to a party full of KY wildcats tonight because I just love the abuse. And maybe, just maybe, the Vols have some of that same attitude.
    If they choose to play loose and free today , it could be as many here have predicted — a big party for the Cocks. But there’s that small chance that it could turn the other direction and UT leaves Columbia with a “morning after Halloween hangover”. Bring on the bags of candy early today boys —
    Vols 24 – Cocks 22

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