Tailgating, TV, tickets and bragging rights

Amanda and Thomas Rackley and their family are in Charleston to watch the South Carolina-Georgia football game on television with her brother.

Enthusiasm for South Carolina football was in the air Thursday on King Street as the biggest game of the season so far loomed.

Rachel Propst looked forward to tailgating Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium when the undefeated Gamecocks take on the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs. She hopes to buy a reasonably priced ticket from a scalper.

“I think it’s going to be a shootout,” she said. “Win or lose, I’m going to have a great time.”

Propst was shopping for a Gamecock face tattoo at Carolina on King. She asked for time off from her job as a server at 82 Queen to meet friends and her boyfriend in Columbia.

The class of 2011 member was among several customers checking out the University of South Carolina’s new Charleston outlet and its array of team-themed merchandise, including suspenders, martini glasses, caps and custom ties.

Elizabeth Paul of Johns Island bought a tiny Gamecocks T-shirt for her baby.

“We’re undefeated since he was born. Hopefully, he can continue to bring us luck,” she said.

She will watch the game on ESPN, but for her little brother, James Peterson, that was not enough. He had flown in from San Francisco so he could catch all the action in person. The Greenville native eyed a jersey bearing the markings of Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.

“South Carolina has never been this good,” he said.

Trident Technical College student Heather Ostrander has a seat on the front row at the 50-yard line courtesy of a friend whose father is a Gamecock Club member.

“I just lucked out,” she said.

Ostrander said Saturday’s game would be her fourth this season.

“The atmosphere and the fans. It doesn’t get much better than that,” she said.

Lugoff Fire Chief Dennis Ray said he will take a break from a conference he is attending at the Francis Marion Hotel to catch the game on TV. He predicted that Carolina would struggle at first but prevail in the second half. He noted that Georgia has injury problems.

Robert Cabaniss, a University of Virginia graduate, said he was pulling for the Gamecocks because his son’s mother-in-law is a big fan. South Carolina will win because Steve Spurrier is the better coach, he said.

At the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Kara Ahl said she attended the game against Missouri but lost out on a chance to see the Georgia contest. “Me and my brother had to fight over the ticket. He won,” she said.

Down the street, Thomas and Amanda Rackley ate lunch at the Kickin’ Chicken. The recent Carolina graduates cut short a stay in Florida so they could watch the game here with relatives before returning home to Raleigh.

“I think we will win by a field goal. It’s our defense that keeps us in it,” he said.

Carolina on King, which opened about a month ago, is part retail store for Gamecocks merchandise and part welcome center for prospective students seeking to learn more about the university. Ashley Canady Slane is director of the new university effort.

“I’m a rabid football fan. I think it’s going to be an exciting year,” she said.