LEXINGTON, KY. (TheBigSpur.com) - Picked in the preseason to win the division and represent the East in the SEC Championship game, South Carolina has fallen on its face and is all but out of the race to play in the Georgia Dome. In fact, if the sheet of team goals is anything like in years past, there are not many of those left on the table.
What is left to play for this season? What goals remain?
While it's never released publicly, the sheet of team goals typically has winning every home game, becoming bowl eligible, winning the SEC East, winning the SEC Championship and beating Clemson.
The home winning streak was gone with a 52-28 railroading by Texas A&M the opening night of the season. The East, while still mathematically possible, has four teams ahead of the Gamecocks (3-3, 2-3) in the standings. Of course, failing to win the East means no SEC Championship game.
That leaves two goals left - becoming bowl eligible and beating Clemson.
"I told the guys we're going to try to have a winning season somehow," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said following the 45-38 loss to Kentucky on Saturday night. "We've got some work to do. We'll try to make some changes somewhere. I don't know exactly where."
Junior Mike Davis said the team goal now is just to win out. South Carolina has a bye to try to regroup this week before facing in-state non-conference foe Furman on October 18. The following week, the Gamecocks will have to hit the road to face fifth-ranked Auburn, which pummeled No. 15 LSU 41-7 on Saturday night.
Auburn's offense is exactly what has given South Carolina trouble this season, so a win on The Plains is going to be extraordinarily difficult, to say the least.
A home game against Tennessee and a road test at Florida finish up the SEC schedule before a non-conference game against South Alabama on November 22 and then Clemson to close out the season.
Sophomore Pharoh Cooper said, "I don't really know," initially when asked what goals are left on the table to play for. He tried to run through SEC East-winning scenarios in his head but settled upon just figuring out a way to win out.
"We set goals to win every game," Cooper said. "We take it one game at a time, we were thinking about Kentucky. We just lost. We're going to still chase our goals, try to win games from here on out. Just keep getting better."
Senior Sharrod Golightly, in his last go-'round at South Carolina, went with a less tangible measure saying "pride," when asked what is left to play for this season.
There was so much promise entering the season. National pundits, not just local ones, were talking about the Gamecocks being a potential playoff team. The SEC East, a title that has escaped them for the last three years, was within reach.
After blowing two 14-point leads in the fourth quarter the last two weeks, there are few goals still left on the table.
Bowl eligibility, six straight against Clemson and perhaps a little bit of pride.
"You never know what the season is going to turn out like," senior Dylan Thompsonsaid. "Obviously you don't expect to lose a game where things are going well, you feel like you've got control of it, and then blow it. That's what we did."