If South Carolina beats Florida at home on Saturday in its SEC finale, you have to think many of the Gamecocks will gather around televisions and watch Auburn's game at Georgia.
The timing of the games works out perfectly, with Florida-USC kicking off at noon on CBS, and Auburn-Georgia following it at 3:30. If the Gamecocks beat Florida and Auburn beats Georgia, then USC wins the SEC East for the second straight year. If USC loses, it must root for Georgia to lose to Auburn and Kentucky, and it is difficult to foresee Kentucky winning in Athens.
USC is 5-2 in the SEC after Saturday's 44-28 loss at Arkansas. Georgia is 5-1, with a loss at South Carolina in its SEC opener. Wins over Auburn and Kentucky would give the Bulldogs seven straight SEC victories to end the season.
"If they win seven SEC games in a row, then we can congratulate them and go from there," said USC coach Steve Spurrier.
First, South Carolina must take care of its own business, and quarterback Connor Shaw's head will play an important role in determining whether the No. 15 Gamecocks are able to do that. Shaw suffered a concussion at Arkansas, when he was sacked with 5:12 left in the game after defensive end Jake Bequette scooted past right tackle A.J. Cann. Cann had moved from left guard because redshirt freshman Cody Gibson was struggling.
Spurrier said Shaw and strong safety DeVonte Holloman, who also suffered a concussion at Arkansas, will probably be held out of Monday and Tuesday's practices, as trainers conduct tests on them. A decision about their status for the Florida game will be made Wednesday or Thursday, Spurrier said.
"If they're not cleared, they won't play," Spurrier said.
If Shaw can't go, Spurrier would turn to redshirt freshman Dylan Thompson as his primary quarterback, with wide receiver Bruce Ellington lining up in the Wildcat formation at times. Thompson appeared in his third college game Saturday. He has thrown two passes, both in a 54-3 win over Kentucky on Oct. 8.
The Gamecocks' offense continues to struggle with moving the ball. USC's 207 yards at Arkansas were its fewest since it gained 205 against Connecticut, which beat the Gamecocks in the PapaJohns.com Bowl after the 2009 season.
USC won its two games before Arkansas - at Mississippi State and Tennessee - despite scoring just 14 points in each game, and gained 289 yards against Mississippi State and 318 against Tennessee.
Once again at Arkansas, the Gamecocks couldn't establish a downfield passing game, partly because of pressure getting through their offensive line. Shaw threw for just 128 yards at Arkansas. He had a 20-yard pass and a 23-yarder, but other than that, his longest completion went for 12 yards. Shaw threw for 155 yards at Mississippi State and 87 at Tennessee.
If the Gamecocks can't spark their passing attack with Shaw under center, what will happen if Thompson is pressed into starting?
Spurrier, who calls the offensive plays, said he tried to get some downfield passing going at Arkansas, and that he "called a bunch" of longer routes.
"I think you guys that were there could see that we had some guys running downfield," Spurrier said. "I don't know if sometimes they were open, sometimes they weren't. Sometimes, I wish Connor had thrown it and he ran out of there (instead). And sometimes, our guys didn't run very good routes, either. It was just a combination of the whole thing. We can't run the ball all the time. We've got to try to get some big pass plays when we get the opportunities."