South Carolina Football: Assessing the BCS Chances of an 11-Win Squad

Paul CookContributor IIISeptember 23, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw (14) passes against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

So it's Week 5, and here's what we know about the SEC East:

South Carolina (2-1) lost an early-season rivalry bout to Georgia, which puts the Gamecocks in a decidedly less than ideal position when it comes to their chances of making Atlanta at the end of the season. Not impossible, just not ideal. 

Georgia (2-1) showed some significant cracks on special teams in their game against North Texas. If you happened to flip over to the game in the early minutes of the third quarter, you would have seen a 21 to 21 tie between a 2-2 Conference USA squad and the Great White Hope of the SEC East. Just sayin'. 

Georgia fans will be quick to point to Aaron Murray's 408 yards of total offense, but when the Bulldogs get back to intra-SEC play next week against LSU, those costly mental errors on special teams are going to hurt a whole lot worse.

Florida (2-1) may be tied for first place in the SEC East right now due to the fact that they haven't yet lost a conference game, but at this early point in the season, the standings aren't telling you the whole story. With the loss of Jeff Driskel for the remainder of the season and a difficult slate down the stretch in SEC play, it's quite possible that this Gators team could go seven and five on the season. They still have to play No. 6 LSU, No. 9 Georgia, No. 12 South Carolina and No. 8 Florida State before the fat lady belts one out.

And the rest: Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC), Vanderbilt (2-2, 0-2 SEC), Missouri (3-0, 0-0 SEC) and Kentucky (1-2, 0-0 SEC).

So what does all of this mean for South Carolina's BCS chances if they go 11-1 on the season?

First of all, Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC) is not going to lose another game until they get to Columbia on November 30, so if this scenario plays out and ESPN keeps pumping up the Tigers as predictably as they have thus far, then South Carolina will cap the season with a victory over a Clemson team that will be 11-0 and possibly ranked as highly as No. 2 or No. 1.

Alabama looked beatable in their game against Colorado State on Saturday, so yet again, it comes down to how they fare against LSU on November 9, a game that will be in Tuscaloosa. 

For Gamecock fans, the ideal scenario would be for Georgia to beat LSU this weekend, but then drop two of their remaining conference games against Tennessee, Mizzou, Vanderbilt, Florida or Auburn.

Then, if LSU beats Alabama, all of the major players in the SEC likely would have at least a single conference loss. South Carolina, following the scenario in which they win out the rest of the season, would be in the enviable position of (1) knowing that they will play in the SEC championship in December and (2) beating a hyped-up, highly-ranked Clemson team at home.

In the scenario I've sketched here, Carolina would likely be a serious candidate for the National Championship game, provided that they win the SEC. Even losing the SEC championship, would give them a fighting chance of making the Sugar Bowl.   

Yes, all of this prognostication seems about as likely as Nick Saban doing a tell-all interview on Charlie Rose, but this is college football, and that's why we love this game: weird, unlikely stuff can (and does!) happen.