COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX) - If the Gamecocks win in Gainsville, Florida on Saturday the Internet, Twitterverse and other social media outlets may explode.
The storylines for this game are on a large scale. Will Muschamp returns to Florida where Steve Spurrier, South Carolina's former coach, was made famous. But first let's start with the basics.
Behind No.1 Alabama and No.8 Auburn the Gamecocks (5-4, 3-4 SEC East) are the third hottest team in the SEC riding a three game winning streak. The Tide and War Eagle have won 9 and 6 in a row respectively.
No.22 Florida (6-2, 4-2 SEC East) has hit a bit of rough patch. They survived against Vanderbilt to start October, smashed Mizzou but didn't exactly the blow the doors off of Georgia. They are coming off a resounding 31-10 loss to Arkansas. The Razorbacks held them to 12 total rushing yards.
Now when USC beat No.18 Tennessee they were coming off two straight losses and a bye. So the Gamecocks are in similar situation where a ranked a opponent is coming of a loss while they are winning games.
The difference in this matchup is the location and emotions surrounding the game. Unlike the Vols the Gators will be at home. USC hasn't been on the road since Sept. 24 in Lexington, Kentucky and that was winnable 17-10 loss to the Wildcats.
Muschamp will be in Gainsville once again. He coached there from 2011-2014 and finished with 28-21 record. He went 18-8 in his first two seasons. Spurrier coached at Florida and at South Carolina bringing both programs to the national scene.
The Muschamp era has already started as the Gamecocks are 5-4 and are in the thick of things in the SEC East after a 2-4 stretch. With a signature win over ranked Tennessee a possible Florida victory could go down as best one yet. It will also put the Gamecocks a game behind Florida for first in the SEC East.
A win will show that USC has officially moved on from Spurrier and will ride the Muschamp train into a bowl game. That's right the Gamecocks are one win away from becoming bowl eligible with three games remaining.
Armed with standout freshman quarterback Jake Bentley, who hasn't thrown a pick in 74 pass attempts, rookie running back Rico Dowdle, who has 276 rushing yards the last two games and you have an offense that aims to continue to put points on the board.
Each week the offense gets better and the defense is also rising with them. They've forced three turnovers in back to back games and haven't given up the big play. Offenses have only produced plays of 30 yards or more six times this season. Two came in the Missouri game. Oh and USC's defense hasn't allowed an opposing offense to score more than 30 points.
The Gamecocks are making plays and finishing games now but the only question that remains is how will this surging South Carolina team handle being on the road in a hostile environment with everything surrounding the circumstances of the outcome.
Only time will tell but Muschamp has been patient with his young team and now they can really display how far they have come with a road win against the Gators.