G&G: Surprise, surprise, surprise

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, let's face it. Given the Gamecocks' history, Saturday's loss to Arkansas was not unexpected. The fact that it was a total humiliation? As Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

Seriously, people, by the end of the game, the only thing more crumpled and crushed than Steve Spurrier's visor was my poor Carolina heart.

But, hey, let's look on the bright side: When it comes to honoring tradition, today's Gamecocks are doing an outstanding job. We're known for melting down in the second half of the season and, doggone it, the current crop of Gamecocks is doing its best to maintain our reputation.

I'm not bitter; truly I'm not. I've said it before: We're known for being lovable losers. If that changed – if we actually won an SEC championship – the shock might be too great to bear. Besides, we've built up a huge storehouse of woe. It unites us in shared misery, and that's a powerful legacy.

Speaking of the SEC championship, it's astounding that we're still in the hunt to win the SEC East. Unfortunately, it speaks to the overall weakness of the conference this season – something that pains me because I always pin my pride on the fact that my Gamecocks are mediocre only in comparison to Florida, Georgia and the other powerhouses we battle each year.

Still, we control our destiny. The question is: Do we have what it takes to win in Gainesville and secure our first-ever SEC East championship? Well, that depends on which team shows up Saturday. If it's the team that played Alabama, heck yes. If not, there's not a chance in Hell.

What I want to know is: What happened to the team that played Alabama? Were they imposters? The Gamecocks that suited up against Kentucky and Arkansas – and, to a lesser extent, Vanderbilt and Tennessee – didn't remotely resemble the ‘Cocks that unflinchingly battled the Tide.

I saw a headline on an SEC roundup that said of the Gamecocks, "They are who we thought they were." The piece went on to talk about how we're faltering down the stretch, just like always.

Well, I'm tired of faltering down the stretch and Chicken Curses and history repeating itself. I want to see the team that played Alabama suited up and ready to kick the bejeebers out of the Gators next weekend.

Our guys are talented enough to win. They have the heart to win. And, despite evidence to the contrary, they want to win.

Sixty minutes. That's all we need: a good, solid 60 minutes from the team that took the field against Alabama. If that team shows up Saturday, we'll have the satisfaction of looking our SEC foes – not to mention the sports pundits – straight in the eye and saying, "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

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