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This means war -- or something like it

And by "war," I mean the bloody kind of attrition of 1914-1918 Europe, the kind of war that only a Frenchman could love because it cut down on the need to advance while also saving the French from the embarrassment of retreat.

Maybe that's what the Gamecocks should have tried against McFadden.

This is what happens when you get a 12-team conference with perhaps three or four very-good-to-elite teams, seven average-to-good teams ... and Mississippi.

(No, not a punny headline, though that's a problem in and of itself. Then again, he who lives in a glass house...)

Being bowl-eligible does not necessarily guarantee a bowl berth in this year's SEC.

As many as 11 of the conference's 12 schools could reach the minimum six wins needed to go bowling. But because the SEC only has eight bowl tie-ins, a couple of eligible teams could be left home for the holidays.

SEC officials have begun contacting bowls that might have at-large spots in the event the SEC has a surplus of eligible teams. But the parity that has turned the top 10 upside down nearly every week this season also means there are a lot of teams across the country hovering around .500. ...

Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, both 5-4 with three games remaining, could join the bowl-eligible ranks with another win. Mississippi is the only SEC team that has been eliminated from bowl consideration. ...

Even nine bowl-eligible teams would be one too many for the SEC's slots, unless the conference gets two team in BCS bowls -— a scenario that becomes more likely if LSU maintains its No. 2 ranking and plays in the BCS championship game.

Conference and bowl officials believe USC (6-4, 3-4 SEC) can take assure itself a berth by winning one of its final two games against No. 17 Florida and No. 20 Clemson. ...

Things would get murkier should the Gamecocks lose the final two games and finish the regular season on a five-game losing streak with a 6-6 record. Bowl officials generally favor teams that have momentum and accompanying fan interest at the end of the season.

But Hyman believes USC's history of bringing fans to bowls will benefit the Gamecocks if there is a surplus of eligible SEC teams.

Really, a six-win Gamecock team would be a hard sell to any bowl not affiliated with the SEC to begin with, mostly because a team that was 6-1, then went on a five-game slide, would be seen as a disappointment to its fan base. And, in this case, it would be a disappointment to South Carolina's fan base.

Not so with Mississippi State or Vanderbilt, though a 6-6 Kentucky or Arkansas would also be a letdown after the dreams their teams had entertained. (Really, though, Arkansas fans ought to be happy that Houston Nutt hasn't done anything really crazy since the season began.)

Alabama fans will attend any bowl, at this point, with Saban-worship at an all-time high and 92,000 fans having turned out a game earlier this year that, you'll recall, mattered even less than a bowl game.

Bottom line? The only way for South Carolina to ensure a bowl berth is to beat either Florida or Clemson -- with the Florida win more valuable in possibly giving the Gamecocks an edge on the Gators. You can also pull for LSU to get to the BCS title game, unless of course a typhoid epidemic rips through the SEC East and South Carolina is the only team standing for the conference championship game. And then it won't matter as long as LSU has a running back with a pulse and functioning muscles.

Speaking of war... Gatorpilot over at Orange and Blue Hue has issued fighting words ahead of this week's showdown between the two SEC teams Spurrier has coached or is coaching. I've already gone round on round with Ryan over South Carolina's progress or lack thereof, so I'll skip that.

But, those Ron Zook years? They're all Spurrier's fault.

Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, who was just as surprised as any of us -- Spurrier gave no warning, and remember, this was in January -- was then forced to scramble to find a head coach. Since all of the top choices were already wrapped up, we got Zook.

Spurrier's decision to bolt the way he did gave us three years of suffering at the hands of Zook. Florida lost 5 games in each of Zook's three years and never finished the season with a Top 25 ranking. 2 losses to Mississippi, one to Mississippi State... it's a long, painful list, so I'll cut it short. I blame Spurrier.

Um, first of all, am I the only one who sees blaming Spurrier for Zook's failures kind of like blaming George Washington for the Alien and Sedition Acts because, hey, if he had just run for a third term, John Adams would have never been president.

Secondly, I can't believe Ron Zook was the best coach available. I mean, Corso might have taken the job, and he couldn't have done much worse. Seems to me the person to blame is Foley.

That said, it's good to see some spice in the rivalry coming from the Gator side. But let's wait to see if this thing stays competitive before we start cracking out the Gainesville jokes.

In case you need to fuel the hate, just remember this.

Definitely evolved from a pterodactyl.