No. 14 South Carolina still has goals beyond SEC
While Steve Spurrier's main goal of winning the Southeastern Conference title has been reduced to a long shot, the coach says for No. 14 South Carolina still has plenty to play for in the final two regular season games.
If South Carolina beats The Citadel on Saturday and bitter rival Clemson a week later, the Gamecocks will have just their second 10-win season in more than a century of football and will have beaten the Tigers three times in a row for the first time since 1970.
''I think we set about eight or nine goals this year. A bunch of them are still out there for us,'' Spurrier said.
South Carolina can still make the SEC title game, but Kentucky would have to beat Georgia on the road this weekend in one of the biggest upsets in the SEC in a while. Spurrier, whose team's 54 points against the Wildcats were the most scored in an SEC game all year, isn't even saying much this week about the remote possibility of a second trip in a row to Atlanta with a Kentucky win.
''We don't talk about that game that much. Really didn't talk about Georgia-Auburn that much either. I did mention I had a good feeling, but my feeling was wrong, that's for sure,'' Spurrier said. ''But what was I supposed to say, I had a bad feeling?''
Georgia's only SEC loss is to South Carolina, while the Gamecocks only lost to West Division teams Auburn and Arkansas. But Spurrier said that's the way the schedule turns out sometimes, pointing out South Carolina made its first SEC title game ever last season going 5-3 in the East.
''We were very fortunate we didn't have to play LSU or Alabama. Georgia didn't have to play them either,'' Spurrier said with a wry smile on the corner of his lips. ''I think Arkansas is a little better than Ole Miss this year.''
First up for South Carolina as it wraps up its season is The Citadel from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Bulldogs won the last time the teams met in 1990, a bit of history Spurrier is telling his coaches to emphasize this week.
The Citadel runs a triple option attack. South Carolina has faced that kind of offense before, struggling with it in a 24-21 win over Navy in September that saw the Midshipmen run for 274 yards.
''We've got to come to play or else they can stay out on the field like Navy did a bit. We might be in trouble,'' Spurrier said.
Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins said one of the reasons he put in the triple option two years ago is because it helped balance out some of the difficulties fielding a team at a college with rigorous standards and commitments like The Citadel.
''One of the nice things about running the triple option is that it gives you a chance to win every football game, especially in a game like this against South Carolina,'' Higgins said. ''They are team that doesn't see it much. It takes more preparation from their standpoint.''
South Carolina defensive tackle Travian Robertson said playing a team like The Citadel late in the season can be a big challenge because their offense is so much different than anything the Gamecocks see in the SEC.
''Defensively, we'll probably go back watch Navy film and look at a lot of the mistakes we had and just see what we need to clean up,'' Robertson said.
And looming after the Bulldogs is Clemson. The Tigers have already secured a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and will be in the top 10 if they can beat North Carolina State this weekend.
Even after losing the last two, including a 2009 matchup before the ACC title game, Clemson has won 28 of its last 40 games against South Carolina, a record that sticks in the craw of just about every South Carolina fan.
''We can't control what goes on in the SEC championship,'' Robertson said ''The main thing we want to do now is finish strong and take care of what we control.''