The month of November has been an absolute nightmare for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the past. But that's what it is - the past - and this November we're more talented and even have a little bit of leeway. Obviously, it would be ideal for Carolina to win out, finish the regular season at 10-2 (6-2), and play for an SEC Championship in Atlanta. It would be a season of things accomplished: first trip to the SEC title game, first win over a #1 ranked team, first win in The Swamp, first back-to-back victories over Clemson in longer than we want to remember, etc.
But does the team have to do all of that to satisfy its fans? Would you be happy to finish 9-3 (5-3) with wins over Arkansas, Troy, and Clemson? I don't think that would "satisfy" Gamecock Nation, but it would taste pretty good. For me, two things can ruin another November of South Carolina football: consecutive losses to Arkansas and Florida, or a loss to Clemson and a loss to Florida after they've beaten Vanderbilt. Obviously, anything worse than that falls into the same category. I can stomach a loss to the team in the upstate if we get to Atlanta. By stomach I mean hover slightly above ruin. Losing to Clemson would put a huge damper on November 2010, but Gamecocks would remember this as the first time we won the East. Albeit, we'd all prefer to do it in style.
For Carolina to achieve what it needs to this season to progress as a program, I believe the Gamecocks must, at a minimum, defeat Florida, Troy, and Clemson, and make an appearance in the SEC Championship Game. 9-3 (5-3) and SEC Eastern Division Champs says something. One can argue that another combination of wins and losses in the 8-4 or 9-3 range will suffice barring we're not excluded from Atlanta, but I think beating Florida in Gainesville and beating Clemson over two straight seasons, in combination with playing for the conference title, displays true progress. What say you?