The South Carolina Gamecocks enter play this Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats as the No. 6 ranked team in the AP Top 25. They are a very talented team on offense and defense and have high aspirations of reaching the SEC Championship Game. With an impressive blowout victory over the Missouri Tigers last week, things appear to be looking good in Columbia.
Then again, this is normally the point in the season where the Gamecocks get their fans’ hopes up, only to drop a game in which they had no business losing.
Enter the Wildcats.
First off, this is a Saturday night game on the road in the SEC. They are almost always difficult, at least far more often than not. It does not matter if Kentucky really has no business being in this game. The Wildcats are 1-3 with two blowout defeats against Top 25 teams in the Louisville Cardinals and Florida Gators, as well as a crushing home loss to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Simply put, this is not a dangerous Kentucky team.
Still, this is a big game for both teams. If you listen to Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier, well, scratch that. Spurrier has remained surprisingly quiet as of late. All he has said about Kentucky is what everyone believes to be true already.
“I think we are better than them,” Spurrier said. “But if we don’t play better than them, they can certainly beat us.’
Of course, that is true of most teams in college football.
South Carolina defeated Kentucky 54-3 last season. It can be argued that the Gamecocks are even more well rounded in 2012, and this is a team who has won 15 of their last 17 games. A win Saturday over the Wildcats will match the Gamecocks’ longest ever winning streak at nine games. Connor Shaw seems to be healthy at quarterback and, considering he was a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, Marcus Lattimore has been relatively quiet thus far, meaning once he gets going, this offense could really become explosive.
Oh, and don’t forget that South Carolina currently boasts the No. 5 rated defense in points allowed this season.
So why could this be a trap game? It is simple.
The Gamecocks are much better than the Wildcats. They have been much better than their first four opponents this season. It comes as no surprise that they are 4-0, and it would be a shocker if they did not move to 5-0 after Saturday night.
That is, just as long as they do not look ahead to their brutal three week stretch that awaits them following the game on Saturday.
South Carolina will head home after this weekend, but they will have to face the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs on October 6. The week after that, the Gamecocks will go back on the road to play the No. 3 LSU Tigers followed by another brutal road challenge against the No. 11 Florida Gators. Depending on how things shake out over the next few weeks, South Carolina could have to play three straight teams ranked in the Top 10.
Welcome to SEC Football.
Still, South Carolina must not get caught up in what the weeks ahead may hold. They do this far too often. Last year, South Carolina lost a game to the Auburn Tigers that they should have won. Two years ago, after knocking off then No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, South Carolina went on to let themselves get upset by a weak Kentucky team. We have seen it happen too often.
Either way, the Gamecocks need to come out and destroy the Wildcats from the start. The longer you let a team stick around, the more confident they become that they can pull off the upset.
Because after this week, it will be the Gamecocks who will be looking to pull off a few upsets themselves.