COLUMBIA — College football is generating plenty of dollars but doesn’t make as much sense.
When Steve Spurrier moved here before the 2005 season, the basic understanding was that he might not be able to replicate his Florida success (after all the Gators should always be loaded with Sunshine State talent) but that he would probably make up ground against the SEC and Clemson because he defied all odds and won at lowly Duke.
So on Saturday the Gamecocks, barreling toward a third straight double-digit win season, are favored by almost two touchdowns over Florida.
Florida head coach Will Muschamp this week got the dreaded vote of confidence.
“I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program,” school president Bernie Machen said.
Sure. As long as Florida doesn’t have to face Duke.
The mighty Blue Devils have more control of their league championship than South Carolina or Florida. A victory over Miami on Saturday in Durham puts 7-2 Duke solidly atop the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Head coach David Cutcliffe said this week he expects “a huge Duke crowd” to honor seniors who enrolled with “a lot of buy into the program.”
Parity has come to Pigskin Picks, too; I have pulled into a tie with Warren Peper, though only one of us truly believes in Duke.
Florida at USC
The Gamecocks are ready and able to make up for a 44-11 loss in Gainesville.
Gene Sapakoff pick: South Carolina, 38-12
Warren Peper pick: South Carolina, 27-19
VMI at The Citadel
Former South Carolina head coach Sparky Woods is in town to lead VMI, but the Bulldogs will win the coveted Silver Shako.
Sapakoff pick: The Citadel, 24-14
Peper pick: The Citadel, 27-14
CSU at Gardner-Webb
Gardner-Webb is 0-3 in the Big South but beat Wofford. Charleston Southern, 10-1, is two wins away from no doubting its first FCS playoff appearance.
Sapakoff pick: CSU, 27-13
Peper pick: CSU, 28-21
Georgia at Auburn
Georgia all but eliminates South Carolina from the SEC East title chase with a win. Auburn might dash the Gamecocks’ Sugar Bowl hopes with a win.
Sapakoff pick: Auburn, 31-30
Peper pick: Auburn, 34-27
Miami at Duke
Miami’s main problem at Duke: Duke Johnson, the Canes’ star running back, is out for the season.
Sapakoff pick: Miami, 31-27
Peper pick: Duke, 27-24
Maryland at Virginia Tech
Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas was the difference in last week’s 42-24 win at Miami.
Sapakoff pick: Virginia Tech, 35-20
Peper pick: Virginia Tech, 30-14
UNC at Pittsburgh
A juicy matchup for the lower half of the ACC’s Coastal Division standings. Pitt beat Notre Dame last week; North Carolina has won three in a row.
Sapakoff pick: Pittsburgh, 27-24
Peper pick: North Carolina, 27-24
Oklahoma State at Texas
Though 6-0 in the Big 12, Mack Brown is still playing for his Texas job.
Sapakoff pick: Oklahoma State, 34-30
Peper pick: Oklahoma State, 30-27
Texas Tech at Baylor
Tough stretch for Baylor, which finishes with Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas.
Sapakoff pick: Baylor, 42-27
Peper pick: Baylor, 35-20
Stanford at Southern Cal
“GameDay” at the L.A. Coliseum. Again, how did Stanford lose to Utah?
Sapakoff pick: Stanford, 23-20
Peper pick: Stanford, 27-19
Last week: Gene Sapakoff 7-3, Warren Peper 6-4
Season: Peper 80-30, Sapakoff 80-30
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff