G&G: Things that come back to haunt you

GamecockAnthem.com is proud to introduce Ronda Templeton to the Anthem family. Who says women don't know football? Templeton's 'Gridiron & Grits' is a sports blog with a distinctly female — and Southern — flavor. She's a die-hard fan of the Gamecocks who's learned a lot over the years. Example: 'There's a reason the tailgate comes before the game. It keeps a loss from spoiling the party.'

OK, I'm going to admit it: I'm pretty freaked out (with apologies to one of my most loyal readers, who complains that I'm never euphoric enough when my Gamecocks win).

If you're a longtime Carolina fan, you know why I'm feeling shaky. We have a history of folding at crucial moments, and this moment is the epitome of crucial. We hold our destiny in our hands and are on the verge of winning our first-ever SEC East championship.

So, yeah. I'm excited. I'm happy. I'm deliriously euphoric. And I'm hoping and praying . . . although, let's get real; God has much bigger concerns than the outcome of a football season.

I'm also fretting a bit, thinking that perhaps our loss to the University of Kentucky is the equivalent of a missed extra point.

You know how you're watching a football game and the kicker shanks it and you're thinking, "Hey, no big deal, it's just one point"? But then, somehow, that extra point turns out to be the game's deciding factor?

Kentucky was just one game – One game! – but, dang, that one game is looking huge in retrospect. Just like an extra point. We shanked it and, barring a miracle, we're going to have to beat the University of Florida in the swamp.

The miracle, of course, is the faint chance that Vanderbilt will do the job for us and pull off a surprise victory over Florida on Saturday. After all, we're talking about the SEC, right? As my friend Gigi says, "The SEC is like a circular firing squad."

Steve Spurrier, King of Crumpled Visors, isn't holding out much hope, but even he admits it's possible. "I don't think they're going to lose to Vanderbilt," he said of Florida this week. "Stranger things have happened, though."

Checking out Stephen Garcia

So, I was front-row at the Tennessee game this weekend and I got a close-up view of Stephen Garcia. I liked what I saw. Quarterback-wise. (OK, he's cute, too. Just sayin'.)

Anyway, here's what's great about Garcia: He doesn't panic. When we blew a two-touchdown lead in the second half, he stayed calm, stepped up and did his job. Sure, he takes a lot of chances – sometimes he reminds me of Tony Romo, throwing into coverage – but, overall, he seems like the kind of guy I'd like to have beside me in a fox hole.

Beyond that, he compares well to Florida's quarterback, John Brantley. Although Garcia has thrown seven interceptions this year, one more than Brantley, he tops Brantley in yardage (1904 to 1459), completion rate (70.6 to 62.2 percent) and touchdowns (13 to 6). And did I mention that he's cute?

Sweating and betting

Regular Gridiron & Grits readers know about The Great Bet. My husband, a smug Texas fan who's not so smug this year, is of the belief that my Gamecocks will never overcome the Chicken Curse – at least on the football field. We're in year two of our five-year wager: If the ‘Cocks win the SEC by the 2013 season, he owes me $5,000. Not that he has $5,000 to spare, mind you, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, this is the first time I've seen beads of sweat on his forehead . . . faint beads, but detectable on close inspection. After all, if we beat Florida, the SEC championship game is a one-game, winner-take-all event.

As Steve Spurrier says, stranger things have happened.



Who says women don't know football? Ronda Templeton's 'Gridiron & Grits' is a sports blog with a distinctly female — and Southern — flavor. She's a die-hard fan of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks who's learned a lot over the years. Example: 'There's a reason the tailgate comes before the game. It keeps a loss from spoiling the party.'

For more of Ronda's work check out the rest of her blog entries here.

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