Over a decade ago, in a world free from BCS pollution and controversy, NCAA football was on the verge of modernization. The powers of college football were aligning into power conferences to successfully institute the new postseason system. Unfortunately we were given the Bowl Championship Series and fans of college football haven’t been happy since. Fortunately, the SEC solidified its place atop college football and has dominated every fall since. When the BCS was instituted the football gods of the SEC came together and realized University of Kentucky football must remain irrelevant and a floor mat for the upper echelon schools. They further ruled that the University of South Carolina would be charged in ensuring the irrelevance of Kentucky and so it has been ever since.
South Carolina has now beaten Kentucky in 10 consecutive seasons. (soak that in Lexington). Even more satisfying than 10 straight wins is the fact that USC has played spoiler in some of Kentucky’s most storied and successful seasons, most notably the rain soaked 2007 meeting when UK was ranked 8th in the nation. In that season UK had already beaten #6 Louisville and would later beat #1 LSU. Thanks to USC, and Eric Norwood forcing 100 fumbles and returning one for a touchdown, UK could only muster 7 wins in the regular season and football irrelevance was maintained. Kentucky has had its most successful seasons over the last decade, but every year USC beats them and delivers the excruciating blow of unimportance straight to the gut of big boo hoo nation. Whether it be Norwood’s performance in 07’, Garcia’s heroics off the bench in 08’, or Alshon Jeffrey’s personal highlight reel in 09’, USC finds a way to make the Cats fans truly blue.
The main reason UK can’t beat USC, Steve Spurrier. I am not a huge fan of Captain Arrogance, but I cannot voice my displeasure with the way he has beaten Kentucky through the years. Why does he have so much success against the wildcats? Because level of hatred cannot outweigh absence of respect. Steve Spurrier has no respect for Kentucky, in fact the only times he even recognizes them is when he hurls the visor from his head and smashes their hopes and dreams into the ground. Since arriving in Florida in 1990 and then making his way to Columbia in 2005, Spurrier is an astonishing 17-0 against the Mildcats. His margin of victory was a little wider at UF than USC, but to us Gamecocks, a win is a win. Over that 17 game winning streak UK fans have developed an unwavering hatred for the ol’ ball coach. The level of hatred hit its peak when he and Danny Wuerffel would unmercifully run up the score, then leveled off in Spurrier’s absence, but shot through the roof again when he took over in Columbia and decided to become a wrecking ball for UK’s football season. Spurrier has not kept his disrespect for Kentucky quiet. He openly discussed how he feels he should never lose to team like Kentucky. I am sure the margin of victories as the USC coach aren’t what he wishes for, but he is a Gamecock now and we all know a win is a win.
USC has beaten Kentucky 10 straight times, and will win number 11 because of confidence. Both of these fan bases set extreme misguided expectations at the beginning of the season and watch as they come crashing down throughout the year. However, fans of the garnet and black are entitled to these expectations. We have a better coach, we aren’t viewed as a perennial SEC basement dweller, we recruit better players, and most importantly we are a football school. The gamecocks know they haven’t achieved greatness and have underperformed, always, but that doesn’t stop us from saying “at least we aren’t Kentucky or Vanderbilt.” When you step out onto the gridiron and you are confident that the team across the field is below you, you play with a sense of certainty. No matter what, we know UK isn’t in our class of football, we know we are going to win, end of story. Also, the gamecocks must remind the citizens of the commonwealth that they are a basketball school and the football field is no place for their kind. It is our duty to remind Kentucky fans that their excitement and relevance doesn’t begin until December.
Finally it is time to be objective. South Carolina will win number 11 because we are better at every single position on the football field. Garcia has had his problems, but he is no Mike Hartline. Since arriving at school he has proven he can throw the ball farther than 20 yards and faster than Rich Brooks can walk, sorry UK the QB edge belongs to us. Randall Cobb is a great player, and if he were on Alabama or Florida he would be in talks for the Heisman, but instead he plays for UKan’t. However, Cobb is one receiver, and the rest of their receivers don’t add up. Alshon Jeffrey had seven more receptions, two more touchdowns, and 300 more yards than Cobb in 2009, as a true freshman and with the return of Tori Gurley, D.L. Moore and Jason Barnes, it is clear USC holds the edge for receivers. UK clings to Derrick Locke, but we have the edge in the running game due to the return of our entire stable of running backs that outperformed Locke in 2009. The gamecocks also return an experienced offensive line and a strong defense that remains almost intact from a year ago. From the objective point of view, Kentucky’s hopes to win are fizzling alongside Obama’s hope to remain popular.
It is clear that the University of South Carolina has accepted the torch passed from the SEC football gods by ensuring that Kentucky football remains irrelevant, insignificant, and mediocre. Words of advice to the land of Lexington: get rid of any dream of beating South Carolina this year, it won’t happen. The gamecocks winning number 11 in a row is a sure thing, in fact I don’t know of a surer thing, unless of course we want to discuss Calipari and the NCAA sanctions he will bring upon Kentucky basketball, but that is another topic for another day. See you in October UK fans, and when we try to find you in November we will politely look down and ask Vanderbilt to get out of the way.