Steve Spurrier hoping for another happy return to Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Steve Spurrier has returned to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium three times since he left Florida after the 2001 season to coach the Washington Redskins. He sputtered to a 12-20 two-year stint in the NFL, took 2004 off, then returned to coaching in 2005 at South Carolina, on a mission to do in Columbia what he did in Gainesville – inject energy into a sagging program.

A win today at third-ranked Florida – Spurrier’s fourth trip here since he left – would go a long way toward helping the ninth-ranked Gamecocks win the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division and play in the league championship game for the second time in three years. In 2010, USC clinched the East by winning at Florida (6-0, 5-0 SEC).

Today won’t be the East title game, regardless of who wins, because even if the Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1) beat Florida to rebound from last week’s 23-21 loss at LSU, they must still beat Tennessee at home next week and Arkansas at home in three weeks, after an off week. But a win at Florida would keep USC in control of its own destiny. A loss wouldn’t totally eliminate the Gamecocks from the East race, but they would need lots of help to win the division.

Kickoff of USC-Florida is at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.