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A Gamecock's Guide to Strategic Cheering

It occurs to me that Gamecock fans aren't used to be involved in a divisional race. Twice before this year, South Carolina was in the hunt for the SEC East title this late into the season: 2000 and 2001. In both cases, though, the scenario was pretty straightforward until the odds became longer: Beat the Orange Crush. Rarely were the Gamecocks ever in a position of strength.

This year is different. South Carolina starts out the stretch run on top of the East. But certain wins and losses by other teams can always help the Gamecocks' odds. So here's a look at which teams you should root for -- apart from the Gamecocks -- this weekend.

The reasons for this are relatively simple: Whenever a team from the same division plays a Western division foe, it's better if the team from the East falls. In this case, a defeat for Tennessee would widen the Gamecocks' margin for error slightly, though South Carolina would still likely need to beat Tennessee in Knoxville next week.

This one is a bit more complex, so play this out for a moment. If Kentucky and South Carolina both win out this season, the Gamecocks go to Atlanta. If UK wins out and South Carolina stumbles once, Kentucky goes. The only teams in the running in the East that South Carolina doesn't play again are Kentucky and Georgia. A loss by the Wildcats would give the Gamecocks more margin for error, particularly if they stumble at Arkansas.

Georgia is idle this week. Cheer for the Gamecocks, the Tide and (as strange as it might seem) the Gators this weekend.