South Carolina vs. Florida: Storylines

One win. That's all that stands between the University of South Carolina football team and a trip to Atlanta for a chance to play for the Southeastern Conference Championship. For all the struggles that the Gamecocks have endured over the years, they can make history with their first ever SEC East title, and all they have to do is pick up a win against the home standing Florida Gators.

Last week's 41-20 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks was certainly not the right way to get the month of November kicked off, especially at home.

Conversely, the Gators have won two in a row after a shocking three game losing streak earlier this year, and appear to be headed to another strong finish.

"Florida, obviously playing very well right now, a little bit like Georgia; Georgia had a sluggish start, and they're playing extremely well right now," said Coach Steve Spurrier earlier this week. "So, we've got to go down there and play one of our best games and see what happens. But we're looking forward to the challenge and it's a wonderful opportunity for the Gamecocks."

Gators have been here before

For a school that has won the SEC East Championship seven times and played in the SEC Title game and equal number, it is safe to say the Gators will be well prepared to handle all of the emotion of Saturday night, and what it means to their program.

But as they face a team with so much history behind them, the Gamecocks have an opportunity to write some history of their own. Still, there is no diminishing how much this game means to the South Carolina program. Will all the big wins over the course of the Spurrier era, and especially the last two years, there isn't any doubt that a win against Florida would be the biggest yet.

"Hopefully our guys will put a little extra into preparation for this game because of its importance," said Spurrier. "But we as coaches try to emphasize every one of them as the most important game of your life because it's the one at hand. The next one is always the most important. But again, we're going down there understanding the importance, but also understanding it's a football game, and to play your best, you have to be somewhat relaxed, you can't get all hyper and tensed up and scared and stuff like that. So we've got to look forward to the challenge."

Does a win move USC up in SEC pecking order?

As I mentioned above, there is a lot at stake for USC on Saturday, and it reaches a lot farther than just the chance to add an extra game to the schedule in 2010. Not only could the Gamecocks keep alive their dream for their first ever SEC title in football, but they may also be able to raise their current status in the SEC with just one win.

Long looked upon as one of the SEC's bottom-feeders, it has become apparent over recent seasons that South Carolina is making strides toward being consistently competitive in football. While this is made even more difficult by the league and the division they play in, Coach Spurrier has brought his winning mentality from UF to USC and helped to change the culture and mindset of the program.

But as much as a change in culture matters, it is nothing without championships, and the Gamecocks will try to win what they hope is the first of many on Saturday night. As expected, Spurrier played coy when asked about all the things his team has a chance to accomplish this weekend.

"You should know I don't answer those kind of questions: ‘If you do this, that's like saying, ‘when you guys win the National Championship, what are you gonna say?' We don't operate in that. Nah, we've just got to go down there and play the best we can. Even before the Alabama game we said the same thing. We've just got to try to get ready to play the very best we can and go from there. You shouldn't concern yourself whether you win or whether you lose, you should only concern yourself with what you have to do to give your team the best chance possible, so that's hopefully what all of us are going to do."

Avoiding the Arkansas hangover

There is no question that South Carolina would have loved to go into this weekend with a lot of positive momentum. Had they beaten the Razorbacks, they would have headed into this matchup with a three game winning streak, and perhaps even a mental edge over the Gators.

But that isn't the case, and USC can't let Arkansas beat them twice, which could happen very easily in a game as big as this. As with all losses, and even wins, Coach Spurrier says his team is putting this one behind them and approaching this game without the thought of November struggles in their minds.

"We haven't been around them a whole lot yet," said Spurrier. "But we'll put it aside. Yeah, we'll be get ready at practice and have a go at it. Like I said, this game, it really doesn't matter what we've done prior except we won enough to get go it and we know what's at stake. Florida's in the same situation. They've not played very well a few games back. They seem to be playing very well now. Every game stands on its own merit so we'll see how it works out."

Keeping the players loose

Part of avoiding the hangover for South Carolina, its coaching staff, and the players, will be playing loose and with nothing to lose on Saturday night. It will be the final SEC test of the year for a team that has weathered the storm so far and emerged still with a chance to play for Atlanta.

After winning for so long with the home team in the Swamp, Coach Spurrier said he knows that his team will have to play at a high level to emerge victorious. Although Florida has stumbled at home several times this season, the Gamecocks will have to play their best to take down Urban Meyer and the blue-clad Gator faithful.

"Oh we try to treat all the games pretty much the same," said Spurrier. "Now, to tell you the truth we tried to treat the Arkansas game about like the Alabama game or the Kentucky game or the Tennessee game or Vandy or whoever. We treat them all the same as coaches. When you get a group of veteran guys who know how to compete and how to get ready to play, as coaches you do the same thing over and over again. Our guys played pretty well the first part of the year but lately we've not played very well. But anyway, we'll see if we can get at a high level."

A high level. A big game. And one win to make history.

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