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The Worst Game of the Year

I hate this game.

I love it, but I hate it.

This is the most unpredictable and usually disappointing game of the year. When South Carolina loses to Florida, or Tennessee, or Arkansas, I usually rebound quickly.

When we lose to Georgia, I'm pissed for hours. I'm unable to speak about the game for extended periods.

Part of this is because the games have often been close ones in recent years, and usually lost because of the Gamecocks' inability to do some simple task or because of some once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Or because of sheer idiocy.


We've only run 53 QB draws? Well, hell, run another.

That's why I hate to pick this game. There is the palpable sense that doom is around the corner. David Pollack is going to make an impossible interception. A critical extra point is going to sail wide. Blake Mitchell is going to think his super duper hand will keep the ball when he tries to improbably plunge it into the endzone.

That is why I hate this game.

But I also love this game when South Carolina beats the spelling-challenged Dawgs, for the same improbabilities that make it frustrating when the Gamecocks lose. Picking off Quincy "Heisman" Carter five times in a game. Leading the winning drive at Sanford Stadium is ... PHIL PETTY???

Alas, I might miss the game with which I have a love-hate relationship. I am but two hours away from Ann Arbor (if that), and the possibility of seeing a truly interesting intersectional matchup in the Big House is too tempting to ignore.

But I will agonize. Even if I get into the Oregon-Michigan matchup, some part of my body will twitch at 5:45 p.m. I will know that a few hours from that moment my body will be filled with one of two emotions.

Boundless joy.

Or seething anger and pain.

1. Mark Richt. He is 5-1 against the Gamecocks, his lone defeat coming in his first year coaching the spelling-challenged Dawgs. Even when Georgia has an otherwise unimpressive year (see: 2006) -- rare enough for him -- he somehow manages to pull out the win against South Carolina.
2. Blake Mitchell. Yes, I'm glad Blake's back. But the Blakecisions scare me.
3. Offensive line. Georgia's defensive line did well against Oklahoma State. The Gamecocks' offensive line did okay against Louisiana Lafayette. Yeah.
4. Sanford Stadium. In the SEC, maybe more than any other conference in the nation, home-field advantage matters. When that home is a stadium that gets as loud as any other in college football, it really matters.
5. Run defense. Got whipped last week -- no two ways about it. And that was to a Sun Belt team. You don't think there are some Georgia running backs (the spelling-challenged Dawgs are sans Kregg Lumpkin) who are licking their lips at that?

1. Steve Spurrier. He owned had a good deal of success against the spelling-challenged Dawgs during his days in Gainesville. You know he doesn't want to keep losing to Georgia in his new job.
2. Blake Mitchell. Yes, the Blakecisions scare me. But I'm glad Blake's back.
3. Law of averages. As the Mayor points out (in a post that otherwise gives South Carolina little hope), the Gamecocks are about due for a win. This, of course, has little to do with what actually happens on the field, but historical trends are trends for a reason.
4. Georgia's offensive line. Almost as big a question -- almost -- as is South Carolina's. If the defense can get pressure on Matt "Keg Boy" Stafford, it could hobble the spelling-challenged Dawgs offense. Emphasis on could.
5. Expanding the offense. Two young, untested starters against Louisiana-Lafayette last week with the Georgia game coming up this week. You don't really think we saw anything near the entire offensive playbook, do you?

THE RESULT: Until South Carolina shows that it can defeat Georgia, I refuse to jinx them by calling the game for them. Georgia 28, South Carolina 21