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Gamecock Football: South Carolina's Sugar Bowl Dreams Not Realistic

As winning the SEC East was until last weekend, going to the Sugar Bowl is possible but not a likely outcome for the Gamecocks.

Pour some sugar on me?
Pour some sugar on me?

During the football team's press availability on Tuesday, the Charleston Post & Courier's Darryl Slater asked a lot of questions about the (remote) possibility that the Gamecocks could play in the Sugar Bowl. He also took a lot of time asking those questions. No, seriously. Like, A LOT.

Slater asked this of Steve Spurrier:

You kind of talked a lot about the goals now going forward in the final three games. Have you guys, as coaches, mentioned to the team the possibility of, if things fall right - including you guys winning out, of getting a BCS at-large bid. Is that something you put out there for the team to chase right now?

...this of Kenny Miles:

Kenny, um, obviously now that you guys can’t win the (SEC) East have you all talked about, and I’m sure you have, but what goals have you talked about in terms of being the ones that are sort of primary on the list and were you aware, I guess, of some of the talk that potentially, if things fall right, that you guys could make a BCS game and not just a second tier bowl game?

...and this of DeVonte Holloman:

BCS there (sic). How aware are you, I guess, of the fact that, if things fall right, you could get an at-large bid to a BCS? And, obviously, as you guys do kind of take it one at a time there is still that 11th win out there for y’all to chase and as you said win all your home games and win out so I mean I guess there is still some big picture to it but how much I guess as you come off of a bye week in which you guys lose a chance win the east. How much does it kind of help that you guys still have that carrot out there of maybe a Sugar Bowl trip could happen, you know what I mean?

Here, let me fix that for you:

It is still possible that you guys could play in the Sugar Bowl. Is that something the team has used as motivation the past week and a half?

Was that so hard?

Regular viewers of the post-practice interviews are well aware that convoluted question-asking is something of a calling card for Slater. Still, the work that he submits both to the print version of the P&C and the corresponding blog is first rate, as newspaper beat writers go, so perhaps this is a brilliant questioning technique lost on rubes like me who didn't go to j-school. But I would imagine that asking a question that the interviewee is capable of understanding is paramount.

Oh, by the way: the responses that Spurrier, Miles, and Holloman gave? Three variants of "We're taking it one game at a time."

Who could've seen that coming?

Surely though, if this much time is being devoted to answering asking this question, the Gamecocks must be on a collision course for their first ever BCS berth if they win their remaining regular season contests against Arkansas, Wofford, and Clemson and looking good doing so. Right? Maybe, but I'm not seeing it.

Exactly one prominent bowl projection guru, ESPN's Brad Edwards, has South Carolina playing its bowl game in New Orleans. He had the same projection following week nine. At that time, his forecast seemed much more likely, but LSU's refusal to fall in line with expectations and get beaten soundly by Alabama put a tree branch in the spoke of Spurrier's Sugar Bowl Dream bicycle.

It's still possible for South Carolina to leapfrog Georgia and Florida in the BCS standings if Alabama and Florida State each do their part to help out in the coming weeks. But with LSU still ahead of the Gamecocks after losing to Alabama and a loss to any of their remaining opponents (Mississippis State, Ole Mis, Arkansas) appearing unlikely, it's hard to see how the Gamecocks would inch ahead of the Tigers.

Even if a two-loss South Carolina did manage to squirm its way ahead of two-loss Georgia, Florida, and LSU teams, it's hard to imagine that narrowly beating them out in the BCS standings would be the decisive factor when it comes time for the Sugar Bowl to make their selection. Even if an argument can be made that South Carolina is a better or more deserving football team than any of those three (and it would be extremely difficult to argue that USC is better or more deserving than LSU), we saw last season that the BCS bowls have no qualms about selecting a team that will travel well and and attract a national audience over a team that actually deserves to be playing in the game.

As much as I would love for the Gamecocks to ring in the new year in the Big Easy, I just don't see it happening.

Feel free to convince me otherwise in comments.