By Willie T. Smith, Greenville News and GreenvilleOnline.com
COLUMBIA - Steve Spurrier was incredulous Sunday when asked if scheduling Central Florida was a mistake because it could hurt South Carolina's strength of schedule.
"You've got to be kidding about scheduling a team like Central Florida hurting your strength of schedule," said Spurrier. "I watch these teams play Austin Peay, Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M. Those are teams you would think they may quit doing. Central Florida is an excellent team. They beat Penn State and you're saying don't schedule them? They may be a little tougher team than you should schedule."
"We don't have those type of games a lot of teams have right now. We play an in-state school every year - Furman, Wofford, Coastal Carolina. This year we're playing Coastal Carolina. They're 4-0. They've got the best start in school history and they're a good team. They'll give us all or may even beat us. We don't have to worry about our strength of schedule. We have plenty built in - eight conference games, Clemson. We usually play an (Atlantic Coast Conference). If we were smart, we would probably lighten it up a bit."
Spurrier is probably wondering why the Gamecocks scheduled a Central Florida team that appears to be anything but a soft touch. The Knights (3-0) should be excited to face an SEC opponent that ranks 12th and 13th, respectively, in this week's AP and USA TODAY Coaches polls.
More important to Spurrier and the Gamecock coaching staff is the ability of the Knights who are coached by George O'Leary. Led by quarterback Blake Bortles, the Knights average 457.6 yards per game, while allowing only 292.6.
Bortles has completed 50 of 70 passes for 816 yards and seven touchdowns, while suffering only one interception. Running back Storm Johnson paces UCF on the ground with 305 yards and six touchdowns.
"They're a very good team," said Spurrier. "They sort of clobbered that Akron team that almost beat Michigan at 'The Big House.' They beat them 38-7 or something like that. They're solid. It's not like they luckily beat Penn State. I think (ESPN Analyst) Lee Corso picked them to win, so it wasn't a huge upset that they went up there and beat Penn State. I think we all understand that. They're a very good team overall.
"Coach O'Leary has been there quite a while and is an excellent coach, excellent system. It's going to be a tough game."