Florida Football: Shameful Early Creampuffs

Ronda Templeton looks at the difficult schedule South Carolina faces to start the season, with two tough teams in NC State and Georgia on the road, and contrasts it with Florida's first two games against Charleston Southern and Troy State. And let's Florida have it.

This is my favorite time of year: Fall is in the air (well, that's stretching it for some of us Southerners, whether we are San Antonians or Columbians, but you get my general drift), school is back in session and the start of a fresh football season is less than a week away.

Hope springs eternal in Gamecockland, and I'm hearing rumblings that this is the year. Well, perhaps it is, but I've heard that old song and dance too many times to take it seriously. One thing's for sure: We have a toughie of an opener coming up Thursday night against NC State. Oddsmakers are split on what the outcome will be, but most of them are favoring the Wolfpack.

And the truth is, South Carolina's offensive line is a big question mark. The combo of Stephen Garcia's largely untested quarterbacking skills and five new offensive assistants means . . . well, yikes.

Still, one of the great things about SEC football is that -- with the possible exception of Florida -- anything can happen on any given Saturday. The SEC is arguably the strongest and deepest conference in the nation, which means our teams grind each other up on the field, week after week. Even the worst SEC teams show flashes of brilliance, which means a bottom-of-the-rankings team can be a season-spoiler for the favorite (so watch out, Gators, we're all gunning for you).

Speaking of Florida: What's up with their season-opener? I mean, honest-to-God, they're kicking off at home against . . . wait for it . . . the mighty Charleston Southern. Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously, I read last week that the spread on the game was 73 points. 73 points!

And their second game? Well, while the Gamecocks are playing a legitimate away game at Georgia -- a game that will actually affect the outcome of both teams' SEC seasons -- Florida will be playing at home against . . . Troy. Again, it doesn't seem right. To be fair, Troy did win the Sun Belt Conference last year, but still, let's get real.

The truth is, Florida doesn't man up and play a team that can make a difference until Week 3, when they face Tennessee. (South Carolina's opponent in Week 3 is Florida Atlantic, our first home game and the only potential given on our schedule. I'll be in attendance, though, so that could be a harbinger of doom -- although I did attend last year's Arkansas match-up and we emerged victorious. The biggest loser on that particular day wasn't Arkansas, though. It was my fellow game attendee, Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who fired up a world-famous doobie.)

Anyway, the bottom line is this: With two real match-ups to begin the season, my beloved Gamecocks may sink or swim early on. Florida, on the other hand . . . well, let's just say that padding the win column with cream puff games is beneath them.

Florida isn't just a good team, it's a great team. I admire them (although that Gator Chomp thing can be annoying) and I think they have an amazing asset in Tim Tebow. But they owe it to their fans -- especially the ones who pay high prices for season tickets -- to play the game for real, right from the start.

For more of Ronda's unique Southern voice, go to Ronda Templeton

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