COLUMBIA — The hype began as soon as Georgia topped Auburn for the SEC championship. It was at runaway locomotive speed when the Bulldogs forced Alabama into second-and-26 in the national championship game, only slightly decreased when Tua Tagovailoa threw that pass and ramped to ludicrous when the TV pairing was set.
Georgia at South Carolina. Sept. 8 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS, the conference’s prime slot.
The winner can make reservations in Atlanta for the first weekend in December.
As the Gamecocks prepare to enter preseason camp, is Georgia on their minds?
“It will be hot,” coach Will Muschamp said. “I can assure you of that.”
You expected him to say something else?
Of course it’s a big game, but it’s Sept. 8. USC doesn’t start camp for a week and there is the matter of the season-opener before Georgia.
Everyone knows that, and everyone knew what the answers would be, but they asked anyway at SEC Media Days. USC’s representatives answered in turn, with the same comments that Muschamp made.
The early-September climate will be so steamy tailgaters won’t have to bring grills. They can cook their burgers on the nearest patch of asphalt.
Other than that, nothing to say until Sept. 1, after USC finishes its game against Coastal Carolina, or Sept. 4, when Muschamp holds his pre-Georgia press conference.
“Again, we need to have a great training camp to focus in on that, to focus on winning every day, to improve,” Muschamp said. “And you either get better or worse, and that's really our focus right now.”
South Carolina has never been good enough to look ahead to any game. The history of USC-Georgia usually says the winner goes on to have the better season, but Muschamp also pointed out that win or lose (and the winner receives basically a two-game lead in the standings due to the tiebreaker), there’s a lot left to play.
The Bulldogs are at Missouri, LSU and Kentucky this year, plus the neutral-field matchup with Florida. They host Auburn.
The Gamecocks host Missouri and Texas A&M and are on the road against Ole Miss, Florida and Kentucky. That Kentucky game holds more for USC than the Georgia game does at present, considering the Gamecocks haven’t beaten the Wildcats since 2013.
The Gamecocks will look at the Bulldogs’ base packages during camp (they drop in prep for all opponents during August) and then fine-tune them during the week leading to Sept. 8.
Not until then. And no talk until then.
Former USC receiver Tori Gurley dropped by Paul Finebaum’s show recently and guaranteed his alma mater would beat Georgia, but D.J. Wonnum spied the thrust coming from a Media Days scribe and parried.
“I mean … that’s the goal,” Wonnum carefully said, when asked if he also guaranteed it. “It motivated us even more to get out there and play our game.”
Scrimmages in August, the Sept. 1 game against Coastal. Those are the games USC is concentrating on.
The speed won’t slow down over the next month. Talkin’ season will hover around South Carolina, but the Gamecocks likely won’t participate.