HOOVER, Ala. - Two years after the four-touchdown beating, the memories are fresh.
SEC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(Voted on by media at SEC Media Days)
1. South Carolina (1,895 points)
2. Georgia (1,777)
3. Florida (1,362)
4. Missouri (1,263)
5. Tennessee (893)
6. Vanderbilt (619)
7. Kentucky (395)
1. Alabama (1,915)
2. Auburn (1,735)
3. LSU (1,453)
4. Ole Miss (1,069)
5. Mississippi State (890)
6. Texas A&M (791)
7. Arkansas (351)
Alabama - 154
Auburn - 75
South Carolina - 32
LSU - 9
Ole Miss - 2
Arkansas - 1
Mississippi State - 1
Georgia never saw what was coming the last time it visited Williams-Brice Stadium. Before the first quarter ended, South Carolina was ahead by 21 points. Its lead grew to 28-0 midway through the third quarter.
For a program that historically owned South Carolina, it was embarrassing. Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson remembers the feeling. Sitting in a corner of the Wynfrey Hotel's second-floor ballroom Thursday morning, his anticipation spilled over.
"Oh, we can't wait. We can't wait to play them," Wilson said, shaking his head. "Because two years ago we played there, they beat us down. It wasn't that good. So we've got a little revenge. We're ready to go up there and handle business."
There will be plenty of business to handle when Georgia returns to Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 13. Before the first month of the season ends, one team will have an edge in the SEC East race.
The target was placed squarely on South Carolina's back Thursday morning when the Gamecocks were picked to win the SEC East by the media. South Carolina edged Georgia, which was picked to finish second in the SEC East.
Alabama was picked to win the SEC West, edging Auburn. The Gamecocks were the third-most popular pick to win the SEC championship, behind Alabama and Auburn. Georgia did not receive a preseason vote for SEC champion.
The Bulldogs didn't need any more motivation against the Gamecocks, but they got it.
"Obviously, what's important is what happens at the end of the year," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "Earlier I got asked that question. I said, 'I'm not happy to be named No. 2. I'm not going to start cheering that we're No. 2.'
"I think in the end, it's going to be Georgia."
It's a familiar position for the Gamecocks. They've been picked at or near the top of the league the past few years. In 2011, media picked South Carolina to win the division following its appearance in the 2010 SEC Championship Game. The Gamecocks finished that season 11-2, but they failed to win the division.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier stopped short of proclaiming his team the SEC East favorites earlier this week. He did acknowledge most analysts believe the division will likely come down between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs.
With a history of falling short in the SEC East race, South Carolina senior quarterback Dylan Thompson talked about the importance of keeping perspective.
"I think hype is just a word," Thompson said Tuesday. "You can't get into that, buy into it. I do think, though, this team has bought into the aspect of work."
Both teams have work to do before focusing on the heart of the division race. South Carolina opens its season hosting Texas A&M on Aug. 28, while Georgia will host Clemson on Aug. 30. They are big games, worthy of generating plenty of hype.
They're not the biggest.
The stage has been set for another early-season swing game between the two border rivals. When South Carolina hosts Georgia, the news of mid-July will be irrelevant.
"I don't know who picked them, but it's whatever," Georgia running back Todd Gurley said. "People pick stuff every year, and they're wrong. It's going to be an exciting game. Everybody's goal is to win the East. That's definitely one of our goals, but I can't tell you who's going to actually win it."
Not only was Nick Saban and Alabama picked to win the SEC West by media members on Thursday, but they were also selected to win the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina was picked to win the SEC East.×