The SEC’s most underrated rivalry: South Carolina vs. Georgia

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The SEC is rooted in its traditional rivalries, filled with old-fashioned hate.

Traditional powers like Alabama and Tennessee play yearly in the game known as the Third Saturday in October. Georgia and Auburn square off annually in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. And the old hate isn’t new hate; it’s not fresh hate. In fact, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has lost its spice, and so has the lopsided Bama-Tennessee bout.

But there’s a new rivalry quickly emerging in the SEC: South Carolina vs. Georgia.

Related: Will this finally be Georgia’s championship year?

It’s a rivalry filled with new-fashioned hate. It’s underrated, and it’s real.

Historically, Georgia has three main rivals: Georgia Tech, Florida and Auburn. All three are must-see staples of the annual schedule. We’re talking long, historical rivalries; all three started playing Georgia before 1905. I’m a sucker for those types of rivalries.

South Carolina, on the other hand, really only hangs its hat on one rivalry: Clemson. Yes, the Garnet Army hates the wrong Death Valley. Hell, Carolina hasn’t beaten anyone enough to make any other rivalries on its schedule.

Until now.

The Gamecocks have beaten the Bulldogs three consecutive years and four of the last six games. It gets echoed during UGA pressers now that the Bulldogs are talking more about the Gamecocks than they are the Gators. That’s new hate talk.

Georgia and Carolina periodically played each other before 1992, before USC joined the SEC. But the Bulldogs dominated the series up to that point. The two teams met 44 times before ‘92, with Georgia winning 33 of the 44 times. The domination continued after the Gamecocks joined the SEC, where UGA has won 13 of 21 games. UGA leads the series 46-17-2.

The biggest reason this game has developed into a rivalry? Steve Spurrier.

Since his days at Florida, where he developed a keen hatred for Georgia and put a target on their back, Spurrier despises the Dawgs. He’s like a little kid on Christmas morning after he beats Georgia, running toward midfield shaking Mark Richt’s hand and smiling for the cameras and the ladies.

Related: Why South Carolina is a championship contender

Ask Georgia fans whether they hate Spurrier; they do, but they also respect him. How can you not respect a coach who has turned two programs into winners during the golden age of the SEC? Interestingly, I’m not sure UGA respects South Carolina as a team or program yet, despite respecting their coach.

Spurrier’s riled up Georgia in previous years about the schedule. Before the 2012 season, Spurrier jabbed Georgia about playing Ole Miss and Auburn, while he and his club faced LSU and Arkansas, two teams competing for the West crown.

Richt noted this offseason that Spurrier isn’t talking much this year, because UGA’s schedule is tougher, tougher than Carolina’s.

Another big proponent of this developing and underrated rivalry is when the game is played. After a brief lapse in scheduling after Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference, this game moves back to week two, where it belongs. Historically, the Tennessee-Florida bout has decided the early favorite in the East during the third or fourth week. But not anymore. The early East favorite exits the winner of Carolina-Georgia.

To add more fuel to the fire, despite losing to South Carolina three years in a row, Georgia has won the East the last two years.

Georgia is also the closest SEC school to South Carolina, geographically. That makes for continued recruiting battles, some which have been heated since Carolina started winning.

Georgia went into Columbia last season and left with their tail between their legs. The Bulldogs were ravaged 35-7 in front of a packed house and a crowing cock.

This is such a sexy developing rivalry that evolves each and every year, and you just never know what’s in store or how either team will react.

Carolina and Georgia are both right in the middle of national championship talks, and they will hit each other in the mouth during week two.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I’d say after Florida, USC is the team I want to see us beat the most. My first Georgia game was the 2007 game against USC that we dropped without scoring a touchdown and effectively put us out of the SECCG and National Title that year. It erks me to no end that we’ve dropped three straight against them — and not just dropped, but flat-out been beat. I’m tired of seeing stupid “COCKS” license plates everywhere in the Atlanta-area (though, I think they’re kind of self-defeating… really, what self-respecting person emblazons “COCKS” on the front of their car and then drives around town?). So yeah, it’s new hate, but it’s very real hate. More real that the GT rivalry and more pressing than both the Auburn and Tennessee rivalries at the moment. Spurrier is a big part of the new hate, certainly, but I think the bigger issue is the fact that we’ve owned them for so long — it’s like getting beat-up by your little brother. I know at this point the Clemson games is getting all the hype, but I could care less about beating those Tigers as long as we’re prepared to beat USC the next week. It’ll be a good game.

    How’s the beard coming along for this season, Jon?

  • I have considered this game a rivalry game starting back in the mid 90’s…WHY… eastern division, border state, and USC has always played UGA harder than any other team on the schedule. USC always shows up to play. They hated us even before Spurrier……

    • Very true Aselle. They’d play UGA tough, usually lose, but then get crushed by UT and FLA. I can remember the beatdowns of the 90’s well

  • “Hell, Carolina hasn’t beaten anyone enough to make any other rivalries on its schedule.”
    C’mon Jon…. They were mediocre in the past, but not pathetic. This is a comment that could be made for a Vanderbilt of the past, yes, but Carolina was at least typically .500.

  • The main reason USC entered the SEC with basically just one rival (although I think for most schools this is normal) was because Carolina had spent 20 years as an independent. In this independent years, the Gamecocks played schools like Nebraska, Michigan, Florida State, Miami, Southern California, etc. But the independent schedule meant they didn’t play many teams at all year after year after year to really develop a rivalry. In the SEC that is different. The UGA series is very important now as is UF and UT.

    So I would argue Carolina’s major rival being Clempson is because of the 20 years as an independent more-so than record.

  • I read a piece on this site from a couple years ago after South Carolina went to the championship game pondering whether they would be able to sustain success and become a year-in and year-out power. It concluded that they’d be perhaps a once every 3/4 year 9 win team. I wonder if the author of that piece still believes that two 11-2 seasons following? I think GA fans are starting to worry that there is another “big” team in the east and are having a hard time coming to grips with the idea that they can’t check South Carolina off as a win anymore. South Carolina has basically taken the place in the league pecking order that Tennessee used to own. They are now getting the recruits they could never have dreamed of 10 years ago (see Clowney, Jadaveon). They now have facilities that rival all the other big programs and have an administration who are committed to being successful at the highest level. If South Carolina can make it 4 in a row over GA, Georgia fans are gonna have to believe that this is become a real rivalry.

    • Spot on Bobnjul… Y’all don’t have to make it 4 in a row for this rivalry to be real. It’s real today.

      • i agree that it is already one of the best rivalry games you can watch each year, because there is so much on the line. yes, even though usc beat uga the last few years, uga still got to the seccg with an easier schedule. but that is because uga took care of business the rest of the way, and usc had an “ooooops” game both years. so while gamecock fans can complain about the easy schedule uga had, they should still point to their own team for a hiccup both years against teams they clearly should have beaten. last season, the usc d held uf to less than 200 yards, and still lost heavily. that says it all. but this year looks to be different. things most people see as a weakness, they will soon see are actually strengths for usc. this will be one hell of a year to watch sec football. can’t wait!

  • Every conference game is a rivalry. I think it would be great for SC to finally win an SEC title and the same goes for Vandy and Missouri and Tennessee, who might be more the deciding teams this year than Georgia and SC

  • This is not a rivalry because USC never beat anyone in th sec until spurrier was coach. Since joining the sec I think they have beaten Florida once? And that helmet just doesn’t even look right in the Georgia dome. It’s gonna be a while before they are “elite” sec level

  • Is there a mobile app for this site?

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