The Last Word
By Randall Stewart
What I really want to do is sit here and write confidently about how the Gamecocks will crush Mizzou, rudely welcoming them to the wonderful world of SEC road contests, and how they’ll move into the top five of the national polls next week. But, to be perfectly honest, something about this game just doesn’t sit right with me. James Franklin is in the same mold as Cam Newton, which is the type of quarterback the Gamecocks have seemingly been unable to stop over the last decade or so. D.J. Swearinger’s suspension could be a crushing blow. Even the television gods are conspiring against South Carolina. We’ve only won two games in our history in the 3:30 CBS time slot–the 35-21 victory over top-ranked Alabama in 2010 and last year’s 17-12 win over Florida.
Gamecock fans know how important this game is to our conference, and dare I say, (potential) national title implications. To say Williams-Brice will be rockin’ is a gross understatement. The uncertainty surrounding Missouri’s Franklin certainly plays into Carolina’s favor as well. He aggravated a shoulder injury in the game against Georgia two weeks ago and didn’t play last week because he was brought up to refuse all types of medicine, including the painkilling shots that would have allowed him to play. He is a game-time decision, but may not be at full strength even if he can play. His effectiveness in both running and passing will likely be compromised.
This is the type of game that, frankly, South Carolina would have lost in years past. I can’t tell you how many times between my first Carolina game in 1994 and the present I’ve seen games in the following mold: Carolina plays an opponent it doesn’t match up well against, the offense sputters, the defense plays out of its mind and the game goes into the fourth quarter tied or with Carolina just behind, but horrible field position and huge edge in time of possession are too much for the defense to overcome, and the Gamecocks end up losing by 10.
But this isn’t years past. This is 2012. And despite all the logical reasons to pick against South Carolina, this game, this year’s team, seems to have a different feel about it. The intangibles are all clearly in the Gamecocks’ favor. Even without Swearinger, the defense will be able to contain Franklin. The offense will be able to score no matter which quarterback is under center. And the intimidation of the first SEC road game will play a huge factor. Do I have good, logical reasons to pick the Gamecocks? Nope. But something about this game feels different, and I’m not one to pick against my gut. Carolina will get it done at home.
Final score: Gamecocks 27-24
Photo Credit: Section 217