Rewind: The free fall continues. South Carolina has lost four in a row since its 6-1 start. Saturday night, Florida soundly drummed the Gamecocks in the same vein as last week's loss at Arkansas. The Gators racked up 537 total yards and hung 51 points on USC. Tim Tebow's Heisman campaign hit another gear after he rushed for an SEC-record five touchdowns and threw for two others.
Fast forward: The Gamecocks can rest up during their bye week and try to game plan for Clemson. A win is pivotal for a variety of reasons. For one, if USC loses again, it might wind up in a menial bowl game — or none at all. Who would want a 6-6 that had lost five straight?
Who's hot: (Insert opposing star here.) If you're trying to win the Heisman, you want to be playing the Gamecocks right now. Darren McFadden (321 rush yards) padded his resume last week. Tebow (seven total TDs) did Saturday. Is it too late for Clemson's C.J. Spiller to make a run?
Who's not: Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix. He was lauded a few weeks back. Now, fans are asking head coach Steve Spurrier to let him go. Nix knew what McFadden and Tebow could do. Yet there was little standing in the way of career days for the stars. That's personnel and coaching. For one thing, without Jasper Brinkley, USC has some size issues at linebacker. Marvin Sapp, who saw limited action, simply wasn't big enough to play middle linebacker and match up with Tebow.
Locker room buzz: Non-SEC bowl games with open slots might include the Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 22), Texas Bowl (Dec. 28, Houston) or the Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 31, Fort Worth, Texas). That's what USC could be looking at without a seventh win. Spurrier laughed Sunday when asked about a bowl. He said there were too many internal issues to be concerned about that. He also quipped that, hypothetically, if a 6-6 team didn't go to a postseason game, at least it wouldn't finish with a losing record.
Sizing up Clemson: Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, the Tigers are dangerous offensively. Quarterback Cullen Harper provides balance with backs James Davis and Spiller. Just what USC needs after allowing a ton of points and yards in two weeks. Oh, and Clemson just happens to be playing its best right now. Could we be headed for a 2003 repeat?
Injury report: Corner Captain Munnerlyn gave his sprained left foot a try, but it just wasn't healthy enough. He was missed. Running back Mike Davis was crunched late in the game and suffered a concussion. Spurrier said safety Emanuel Cook's sprained left ankle slowed him down.
He said it: "Thinking about winning the SEC about four weeks ago was a realistic thought. Obviously it turned out to be very unrealistic." — Spurrier
Inside the numbers
99 — Points against the Gamecocks the past two weeks.
1,187 — Total yards against the Gamecocks the past two weeks.
75.9 — Arkansas and Florida have converted 22 of 29 third downs — 75.9 percent.
13 — South Carolina's last win was Oct. 13. If the Gamecocks win again this year, it'll be more than a month since their last victory.
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