South Carolina’s Road to Atlanta

At the end of the 3rd quarter last night in Columbia, Missouri, Gamecock fans’ hopes of returning to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game were all but dead.

But one quarter and two overtime periods later, senior quarterback Connor Shaw had brought the Gamecocks back from the dead and put them right back into the SEC East race.

With a loss last night, the Gamecocks would have all but been eliminated from contention. They would have been three games behind Missouri and one behind Georgia, needing both teams to lose multiple games in order to get to Atlanta.

But thanks to the heroics of Shaw and a missed chip-shot field goal by Missouri’s Andrew Bagget, the Gamecocks are right back in the hunt for a division championship and only need a little bit of help to get there.

The Gamecocks currently sit one game behind Missouri in the standings, and own the same record in the loss column as Georgia and Florida, although Georgia owns the head to head tie breaker with USC.

Missouri: 7-1 (3-1)
S. Carolina: 6-2 (4-2)
Georgia: 4-3 (3-2)
Florida: 4-3 (3-2)

South Carolina has two remaining SEC games left, next Saturday against Mississippi State and Nov. 16th against Florida, both at home.

Missouri still has four SEC games left: next weekend against Tennessee, Nov. 9th at Kentucky, Nov. 23th at Mississippi, and Nov. 30th at home against Texas A&M.

Georgia plays Florida next weekend in Jacksonville, at Auburn on Nov. 16th, and hosts Kentucky on Nov. 23rd.

After facing Georgia in Jacksonville, the Gators play at home against Vanderbilt before traveling to South Carolina on Nov. 16th.

While the Gamecocks do not quite control their own destiny, they are in a good position to get back to Atlanta.

First, Carolina must win their remaining two SEC games. This would obviously put the Gamecocks ahead of Florida, eliminating the Gators. USC is not eliminated if they were to drop one, but it would be very difficult.

The easiest scenario would be for Georgia to lose one of its remaining games and Missouri to lose at least one more as well. Even if Missouri and South Carolina finish with the same record, the Gamecocks would win the east because they beat Missouri.

If Georgia wins out, then the Gamecocks would have to hope for Missouri to lose to either Tennessee or Kentucky. If all three teams finish with the same conference record but Mizzou’s second loss were to Ole Miss or Texas A&M, then the Tigers would win the east because they would have the best record within the division (both Georgia and South Carolina would have two losses within the division).

If all three teams finish tied and all have two losses within the division, then things get tricky. Assuming that all 3 teams finish 10-2 overall, then there are multiple tie-breakers to decide a champion, including a scenario where the highest ranked BCS team would win it if they are at least five spots ahead of the team that beat them. A complete list of all the tie breakers can be found at the link below:

http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/NEWS/tabid/473/Article/134195/sec-divisional-tie-breaker.aspx

The good news for Gamecock fans is that both Missouri and Georgia have very tough games remaining on their conference slate. Missouri will have a difficult time getting past both Ole Miss in Oxford and Johnny Football and the Aggies to finish up the season. While Georgia may get by Florida, they will have a tough time matching up with Auburn’s offense.

So no, the Gamecocks have not won the east yet. But they took a huge step forward with last night’s comeback. Gamecock fans, don’t make reservations just yet. But make sure you don’t make plans for December 7th, unless they involve the Georgia Dome.

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