Cloninger Soundoff: A winning USC has a lot to play for this year

Posted by DAVID CLONINGER on October 10, 2013 

Full disclaimer: None of the below matters if South Carolina can’t win. That’s win on Saturday and keep winning.

But, boy, the chances are so much greater now …

Everybody saw Tennessee give Georgia as much as it could handle last week, and everybody has read this week about the multitude of injuries the Bulldogs are dealing with as they attempt to navigate the road to Atlanta. Backup tailback (really, co-starting tailback) Keith Marshall is done for the season with a torn ACL as is receiver Justin Scott-Wesley. The Bulldogs already lost receiver Malcolm Mitchell to a torn ACL, and another receiver, Michael Bennett, had a torn meniscus repaired and is out for a couple of games.

With Todd Gurley also nursing an injured ankle (coach Mark Richt labeled him doubtful to play Saturday against Missouri), the Bulldogs are down to Aaron Murray and not much around him to run their offense. With Georgia’s sieve-like defense playing with the same motto all year (“Our offense will outscore you.”), the Bulldogs’ SEC championship hopes are riding on Murray’s arm and a lot of hope.

USC, as it has known since a Week 2 loss to Georgia, is reduced to winning and scoreboard-watching. When the Bulldogs beat LSU two weeks ago, the chances of the Gamecocks overcoming that early loss to the Bulldogs looked impossible; now, they’re better.

A wounded Georgia team has to beat a surprising Missouri team, an improving Florida team in Jacksonville and take out Auburn (which just beat Ole Miss) on the road. Florida plays at LSU on Saturday and comes to Columbia on Nov. 16. The Gamecocks could ride some other losses to get a thought-to-be-lost SEC East title.

If they can keep winning.

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