Spurrier steadying No. 3 South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Steve Spurrier likes what undefeated South Carolina has accomplished so far. He knows, though, the third-ranked Gamecocks have plenty of games left that will determine how special the season turns out.
South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) jumped up three spots Sunday to its highest position since 1984 after a dominating 35-7 victory over No. 14 Georgia on Saturday night. The Gamecocks reached a number of milestones, winning their school-record 10th straight game and taking three straight from the Bulldogs for the first time with the sort of performance that fuels national title talk.
"We realized if we won the game last night, this could happen," Spurrier said.
Spurrier handled those sky-high expectations in much of his 12 seasons at Florida from 1990-2001, bringing his alma mater a national championship in 1996. Spurrier says this group of Gamecocks is his most complete and mature group since he took control of things here in 2005. All that doesn't guarantee perfection in the unpredictable world of college football.
"We certainly like where we are right now, but we're smart enough to know it's still a difficult, difficult road for us," Spurrier said.
That starts this week with the Gamecocks heading to No. 9 LSU to face a Tiger team angry from its season's first loss at No. 4 Florida earlier Saturday and carrying the advantage of a night game at Death Valley where the home team rarely falters.
The fired-up LSU atmosphere even stung Spurrier before, his 1997 top-ranked, defending national champions stumbling to the Tigers 28-21.
"They'll be ready for us," Spurrier said. "They're ready for everybody."
Part of Spurrier's success at South Carolina is his steady approach from week to week. When he arrived, he thought too much time was spent tracking state rival Clemson and not focused on the Southeastern Conference and got both players and fans to lock on to chasing a league title.
He also knew the Gamecocks couldn't let the state's best players such as receiver A.J. Green head off to Georgia like he did before Spurrier arrived. So Spurrier landed the past four winners of the state's "Mr. Football" award given South Carolina's top prep player. Those included last April's first-round draft pick in cornerback Stephon Gilmore and current Gamecocks stars tailback Marcus Lattimore and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Lattimore and Clowney showed their worth against the Bulldogs. Lattimore gained 109 yards — he has 467 yards and four TDs in three career games vs. Georgia — while Clowney led a defensive effort that held the SEC's highest scoring team coming in without a point the game's first 58 minutes.