With 'little hope' in SEC East, USC eyes Citadel, Clemson
COLUMBIA -- South Carolina didn't get the result it needed Saturday as Georgia beat Auburn after the Gamecocks defeated Florida to stay alive in the race to win the Southeastern Conference's East Division. And now, even USC coach Steve Spurrier is resigned to the Gamecocks not returning to the SEC title game, as Georgia likely will take the East's spot.
"It looks like they're going to win the East now, so I congratulate them for winning seven in a row," Spurrier said Sunday.
Well, Georgia hasn't actually won seven straight SEC games yet. The Bulldogs still must beat Kentucky at home Saturday in their SEC finale. If No. 13 Georgia (8-2, 6-1 SEC) does beat the woeful Wildcats (4-6, 1-5) then it would have seven straight conference wins (and nine straight overall) after a Week 2 home loss to South Carolina dropped the Bulldogs to 0-2.
Spurrier has no hope that Kentucky can upset Georgia?
"You always hold out a little hope, but Georgia is playing awfully well now," he said.
So, Spurrier and the Gamecocks will try to make the most of the season's final two games, both at home -- noon Saturday against The Citadel, and Nov. 26 against fierce rival Clemson, ranked 7th in The Associated Press poll.
USC moved up from No. 15 to 14 in the AP and coaches' polls, and has defeated Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in back-to-back years for the first time ever. Because of those accomplishments, Spurrier doesn't think missing the SEC title game would detract from this season. He noted that while last year's team made the title game, it went 9-5, 5-4 in the league, while this group is 8-2, 6-2 in the league.
"It's pretty neat what our guys have done," Spurrier said. "If Georgia had lost one along the way, we'd be celebrating back-to-back East (titles). But they didn't. I really thought before the season that if you did go 6-2 and you beat Georgia, that would probably be good enough. But it doesn't look like it is."
As the Gamecocks prepare to wrap up the season, receiver Bruce Ellington is getting closer to returning to USC's basketball team.
Ellington, a point guard from Berkeley High, led USC in scoring last season as a freshman, with 12.8 points per game. Spurrier said Ellington will be able to resume playing basketball the day after the Clemson game.
That means he wouldn't be available for the Nov. 25 basketball game against top-ranked North Carolina in Las Vegas -- USC's best non-conference game of the season. USC basketball will play Southern California or UNLV in Las Vegas on Nov. 26.
But Ellington would presumably be available for the Dec. 1 home game against Providence.
"Whatever bowl game we're in, he will probably juggle a little football one day, a little basketball the next day, if he likes," Spurrier said. "I'm a big believer in a guy can play two sports. He'll be a little rusty over there for a while, but hopefully in a week or two, he'll get his basketball hands back and ready to go."