Strong finish to season is key for Gamecocks

USC has plenty of goals left on the table with three games to go

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 7, 2012 

South Carolina heads onto the field for the start of their game against the Vols at Williams-Brice Stadium, Saturday, October 27, 2012.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

  • GAMECOCKS VS. RAZORBACKS WHO: USC (7-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. Arkansas (4-5, 2-3) WHEN: Saturday, noon WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium TV: CBS RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 91/XM 91 LINE: USC by 14

The top few items on South Carolina’s 2012 wish list have been reluctantly crossed off.

Any hope of the school’s first SEC championship or of another SEC East crown was dashed this weekend. “Unbeaten Season” and “National Championship” had each been scratched out in the preceding weeks. So now the No. 12 Gamecocks prepare to face Arkansas with a revised set of goals.

“We still have a lot of goals on the table that we can finish,” senior running back Kenny Miles said.

South Carolina has marked its recent run of success by adding up “firsts” — first 11-win season, first three-game winning streaks against Tennessee and Georgia, first SEC division title, etc. The only significant first that remains attainable for the Gamecocks is a trip to a BCS bowl.

ESPN’s Brad Edwards is projecting the Gamecocks will play in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, and it is “very known throughout the team” that the game remains a possibility, senior spur DeVonte Holloman said.

“We have heard some of that, but right now we’re just trying to focus on Arkansas because they have been killing us the last couple of years,” senior tight end Justice Cunningham said. “Our main goal right now is to win the rest of our home games. I want to go a year without losing at home … and, of course, beat Clemson.”

Coach Steve Spurrier would rather not entertain Sugar Bowl talk, he said.

“We’ve got enough to talk about without talking about that one,” he said. “I think our guys realize that we’ve lost to two top-10 teams at their place. So if we can finish strong, we’ll see where it leads us.”

South Carolina is No. 8 in the latest BCS rankings, two spots below their highest position in the history of the rankings (No. 6 on Oct. 14, 2007). The Gamecocks’ highest finish in the BCS is No. 9 last season.

South Carolina has guaranteed itself a school-record ninth consecutive season of at least a .500 record, and it is six wins away from the school record for consecutive home wins. The Gamecocks have won nine in a row at home (the record of 15 was set from 1978-1980) and have not gone undefeated at home since the 1987 season.

“Just one game at a time right now,” Spurrier said. “Trying to win number eight and trying to keep the streak at home alive is, I think, enough to talk about right now.”

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