After the Gamecocks' upset victory over Tennessee 2 weeks ago, it became apparent that there remained a narrow path open for the Gamecocks to win the SEC's Eastern division. For this to happen, 3 key results would be needed on November 5th:
- South Carolina beats Missouri
- Georgia wins @ Kentucky
- Florida loses @ Arkansas
All of this stuff happened. So now only 4 more specific results need to occur over the next few weeks for the Gamecocks to make it to Atlanta. The following scenario produces 4 teams with 4-4 records in the SEC. By my reckoning only 2 teams have ever made it to the SECCG with more than 2 conference losses: LSU in 2001 (5-3) and South Carolina in 2010 (5-3). Given the unprecedented level of putridity in the SEC East, this could the year to break records.
Could have made a big move towards punching their ticket to Atlanta this past weekend, but instead choose to get blown out by a team near the bottom of the SEC West standings. For South Carolina to win the East, Florida would need to:
- Lose to South Carolina this weekend, obviously (50%)
- Lose @ LSU in 2 weeks (80%)
This would put Florida at 4-2 in the East, with losses to Tennessee and SC.
With only one conference game left this season Kentucky would have put themselves in great position to win the East with a 5-3 conference record with a win over Georgia last week. For South Carolina to win the East, Kentucky would need to:
- Lose @ Tennessee this weekend (70%)
Kentucky would then be 3-3 in the East, with losses to Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.
These guys are currently 2-3 in the SEC with 3 games remaining. For South Carolina to win the East, Tennessee would need to:
- Beat Kentucky this weekend (70%)
- Lose to Missouri in 2 weeks (0.1%) or @ Vanderbilt in 3 weeks (30%)
This would give Tennessee no better than a 4-2 record in the East, with losses to South Carolina and Missouri / Vanderbilt.
With one game remaining in their conference schedule, the Gamecocks need to:
- Beat the Gators (50%)
The Gamecocks would then have a 4-2 record in the East with losses against Kentucky and Georgia.
Under this scenario Kentucky would be eliminated first as they have 3 losses within the division. Florida would then be eliminated as they would have 2 losses against the remaining 3 teams. South Carolina would then head to Atlanta by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Tennessee. Stranger things have happened. The key game in this scenario is Tennessee's match-up at Vanderbilt. This is one that Tennessee should win, but Vanderbilt is a tough out for everyone. Only one of their losses this year has been by more than 7 points (@ Georgia Tech). They gave Auburn all they wanted last weekend, and have a much better chance than Missouri at pulling off the upset.
Now, there is a question as to whether South Carolina going to Atlanta (to in all likelihood be absolutely dismantled by Alabama) is a desirable thing. The answer is a most definite yes. We haven't made it there enough to be choosy about when we go. At the beginning of each season every team sets goals, and at the top of every team's list is the goal of winning their division. Muschamp achieving one the top goals in his first year would be a major statement, much like Spurrier's team winning the East in 2010 was. Also, every team has a chance to win when they put the pads on, regardless of whether the opponent is Alabama or not. The Gamecocks making it to Atlanta this season is highly unlikely, but they can take care of what's in their control by beating Florida this week.