South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia called this game the biggest in Gamecocks history, and although the Head Ball Coach refuted him, Garcia might not be wrong.
After Arkansas soundly beat South Carolina last week, Garcia proclaimed Saturday's game against Florida as the biggest in the history of the Chicken-Cursed program.
"No, that's not true," USC coach Steve Spurrier said Wednesday. "Please don't listen to Stephen when he talks all the time."
Spurrier might have a hard time persuading Gamecocks fans that it isn't the biggest game in the history of the program. When they face Florida on Saturday, it will determine who wins the Eastern Division and advances to the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4 in Atlanta.
Conference championships are not as common in Columbia as they are in Gainesville.
The Gamecocks have one -- an ACC title in 1969. They have not played for an SEC title.
Florida, on the other hand, has claimed eight SEC titles, including six that Spurrier won in his 12 years coaching the team. Florida has played in the SEC championship game a conference-best 10 times.
"The Florida fans usually have it clinched by now, if I remember right," he joked. "Usually, not always, usually, they have the division wrapped up before the last game."
The last time the Gamecocks got this close, it was Spurrier in their way. In the 2000 matchup in Gainesville, the Lou Holtz-led Gamecocks blocked two Florida punts and returned them for touchdowns. But Spurrier's Gators scored 38 unanswered points to win the East.
"It is a big game, but gosh, beating the No. 1 team in the country, Alabama, was a big win for us," Spurrier said of USC's upset of the Tide. "South Carolina's had a lot of big games in school history. Unfortunately, probably hadn't won many of those big games so we're trying to do something different there as far as starting some tradition."
If Gators fans are having a hard time getting excited for a chance to get into the title game, consider that the Gamecocks have two of the best playmakers in the SEC in running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, beat an Alabama team that soundly thumped Florida and rank 11th nationally in rush defense and third in sacks.
Florida's 17-1 record against South Carolina since the conference split to divisions in 1992 is irrelevant this year, coach Urban Meyer is telling his players.
It might not be the biggest game in South Carolina history, and definitely not in Florida's. But with these stakes, both fan bases should have no trouble treating it like the biggest game of the season.
"It's a one-game season. Without this game, I guess our season will be a failure," Florida center Mike Pouncey said. "I'm so used to being on great teams. If we get through this one, it'll be one to remember."