But, if the Gamecocks manage to defeat Florida in the noon encounter and Georgia loses to Auburn, they will earn their second straight East Division title and make a return trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game.
If they manage that, it will mark the first time USC has forged a 5-0 record against opponents from its division.
For there to be a chance of that happening, however, the Gamecocks will have to concentrate on defeating Florida for the second consecutive season -- something they have never accomplished.
USC earned the 2010 East title by defeating the Gators 36-14 in Gainesville. There is a difference this time around, however. Sophomore All-America running back Marcus Lattimore will not be in the lineup. He rushed 40 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns in last year's encounter, while also catching two passes for 31 yards.
This will mark the first time South Carolina will play Florida when the Gamecocks enter the contest as a ranked team while the Gators are unranked. In fact, it's only the second time since the Gamecocks joined the SEC that they will face an unranked Florida team. Carolina was also the higher-ranked team in 2010, the only previous time that has occurred. The Gamecocks are 15th in both major polls.
A potential problem for the Gamecocks was the injury bug, which might have force several of their key players to miss the game.
Starting quarterback Connor Shaw suffered a concussion late against Arkansas, but Spurrier delivered good news during the SEC teleconference Wednesday.
"Connor Shaw appears that he's going to be able to play this week," Spurrier said. "He's passed all the tests that the trainers and doctors administer after concussions."
The news isn't as good for junior strong safety DeVonte Holloman who also suffered a concussion. According to Spurrier and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, it doesn't appear he'll play Saturday.
--WR Bruce Ellington is one of the most versatile athletes on the USC football team.The redshirt freshman, who was the leading scorer on the Gamecocks' basketball team in 2010, will probably not only line up at wide receiver, but in the backfield as well as a Wildcat quarterback. He has rushed 13 times for 102 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown, completed 2-of-3 passes for 24 yards and caught 14 passes for 140 yards.
--The Gamecocks had their school-record six-game road winning streak snapped at Arkansas. They had the nation's fifth-longest winning streak prior to the setback last Saturday night. The Gamecocks finished the 2011 campaign with a 3-1 road record (wins at Georgia, Mississippi State and Tennessee, loss at Arkansas), their best road record since posting a 4-1 mark in the 2006 season (wins at Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Clemson, loss at Florida).
--South Carolina's win over Florida in 2010 broke a four-game losing streak against Florida. The Gators had claimed 18 wins in 19 games prior to that.
SERIES HISTORY: Florida leads South Carolina 23-5-3 (last meeting, 2010, 36-14 South Carolina).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The is a strong possibility Kenny Miles could receive more playing time this week after getting significant action for the first time since injuring his wrist early in the season. After rushing for 137 yards against Tennessee, freshman Brandon Wilds had only 21 yards on 10 carries against Arkansas and had a key second-half fumble. Miles ran impressively in his few carries in the game, and head coach Steve Spurrier said in his Tuesday press conference that more playing time for the junior could come against Florida. QB Connor Shaw was expected to practice this week and appears set to start against the Gators, but he had not been medically as of Wednesday after suffering a concussion late against Arkansas. The team has continued to struggle in the passing game, as junior All-America receiver Alshon Jeffery caught only three passes for 19 yards.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Following several weeks of elite play, the South Carolina defense struggled mightily against the high-flying Arkansas offense, marking the second straight year the team has been unable to consistently stop the Razorbacks. One of the reasons for the play was the inability of senior spur Antonio Allen to play after injuring his neck in practice. It is believed he will return for Saturday's game, but that will be determined based on whether his neck spasms cease. Considered the heart of the defense, his loss was felt last week. Compounding problems for assistant head coach-defense Ellis Johnson was the loss of SS DeVonte Holloman to a concussion late in the game. He is listed as questionable. One other move has senior C. C. Whitlock moving to a starting spot at field cornerback, where senior Marty Markett has been. The two receive virtually equal playing time during games, though.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Well, a little unusual. But again, we're 7-2, 5-2 in the conference and got a chance to win more conference games than ever around here in 20 years of ball. So, we can't sit around here and feel sorry for ourselves even though we haven't played spectacularly, we've won a bunch of games, so we've just got to look at where we are and try to get ready to play our best this week with the players we have, and that's what we're going to try to do." -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on his team's plethora of injuries this season
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Florida at South Carolina, Nov. 12 -- Florida has dominated the series, but most of the Gators wins over USC were accomplished with Steve Spurrier at the helm. Now that the Head Ball Coach has moved to Columbia, he is working hard to change that trend, as the Gamecocks clinched the East Division title in 2010 with a dominating 30-14 win in Gainesville. A USC win would make Spurrier 3-4 against his alma mater. He will have to find a different way of accomplishing it this year, however, as the team rode RB Marcus Lattimore, who picked up 212 rushing yard and three touchdowns in last year's game.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Pressure Florida QB John Brantley. The Gators' senior has suffered through a disappointing season due mostly to a myriad of injuries. He is expected to start against USC but is returning from a foot injury. He's not very mobile when healthy, so the Gamecocks should manage to force mistakes if DEs Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor can either force quick decisions or get sacks.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
DE Melvin Ingram -- After getting off to a tremendous start, Ingram's production, at least in the sack department, has declined since suffering foot and ankle injuries weeks ago. If the Gamecocks' defense is to rebound from last week's dismal performance against Arkansas, it needs a see the Ingram it had early in the season.
CB Victor Hampton -- The redshirt freshman has played well for the most part and has proved to be very good in man-to-man coverage. His propensity to play receivers tight and take chances could bite him against the speed of the Florida receivers. If he is able to keep up, an interception could be in his future. He also appears in line to become one of the Gamecocks' kickoff returners after solid outing a week ago.
--Spur Antonio Allen is expected to return to action after missing the Arkansas game with a neck injury suffered in practice. He has been the heart of the team's defense, as he is near the top in both tackles and interceptions.
--QB Connor Shaw was knocked out of Saturday's game against Arkansas late with a concussion. He has taken part in practice, and is now cleared medically.
--SS DeVonte Holloman exited the Arkansas game in the fourth quarter with a concussion and did not return. It is not known if he will be cleared until later in the week but it doesn't look good. If not, he will be replaced by freshman Brison Williams.
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