NCAA Football SEC Football

South Carolina-Georgia, the Most Underrated Rivalry in the SEC

Georgia Bulldogs, SEC Football

Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

With every great rivalry in college football comes a name. Alabama and Auburn have the Iron Bowl. California and Stanford has the big game. Texas and Oklahoma uses the Red River Shootout as their name.

For South Carolina-Georgia, it’s merely just South Carolina-Georgia.

The game has been played since 1894, with both clubs meeting a total of 67 times presently. The teams have played annually since the SEC adopted South Carolina in 1992. The game has fashioned itself into one of the most underrated rivalries in the SEC and maybe in the country.

The rivalry has intensified over the last decade, mainly since Steve Spurrier took over as head coach of South Carolina in 2005. Spurrier is currently 15-5 against Georgia as a coach at both Florida and South Carolina. Spurrier has inflected pain on Georgia fans ever since his days as a 1966 Heisman trophy winning Florida quarterback, running through Georgia for six SEC Championships as Florida’s headmaster will spoil the good nature as well.

Georgia has dominated the overall series, 46-17-2, Georgia had beat the Gamecocks seven out of eight times from 2002-2009, however, South Carolina has won the last three meetings, outscoring the Bulldogs 97-55.

Last year, the feud blossomed even more as both were highly ranked; No. 6 South Carolina defeated No. 5 Georgia 35-7, the biggest defeat in the rivalry since 2003. It was the first time that South Carolina had beaten Georgia in three straight tries. South Carolina placed the largest margin of victory since 1911 for the rivalry. Georgia vs. South Carolina had a reputation along with Arkansas vs. LSU, as one of the closest rivalries in the SEC conference each year, and not living up to its billing shocked the nation in 2012. Since 2000, the game has been decided by a touchdown or less eight times.

Last year’s game was suppose to be the greatest game in the series, now the best game from the series still dates back to 1980. In the 1980 matchup, the game pitted Heisman Trophy winners Hershel Walker and George Rogers. Georgia won 13-10 in Athens off the legs of Walker, winning the National Championship with a win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl that year. Walker would finish his freshman campaign with one of his three 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC. Rogers rolled through Georgia’s defense for 168 rushing yards during the once non-conference dispute, which prompted him to win the 1980 Heisman Trophy in his senior season.

The rivalry has a huge feel for both fan bases because it comes so early. You lose the game then; you are already behind everybody else getting to Atlanta. The Bulldogs-Gamecocks matchup has essentially replaced the Tennessee-Florida game, as the deciding point on who will win the East. The last three SEC Champions have been both these teams.

Because of the SEC “bridge” schedule, the game last season was moved to October 6, 2012. However, the contest between the two programs is back to the second week of the season for each program in 2013, the game will be televised for the seventh time on ESPN in the last 15 years.

The question until Sept. 7, is whether or not Carolina can stop a Georgia rematch with Alabama come December with a big win in Athens, or will Georgia spoil Carolina’s dream of a second SEC East crown. We still have three and half weeks to decide, so see you then.

 

Zach Virnig is a SEC Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.