Before Tennessee entered Williams-Brice Stadium to face South Carolina on Saturday, many desired for the Volunteers to compete for a College Football Playoff spot.
While Vols foe Georgia will play in the league’s championship game against LSU on Dec. 3, the thought of witnessing Tennessee—a program that has not won its division since 2007 or claimed an SEC title or national championship in 24 years—in the mix of college football’s elite for the first time since the year after Peyton Manning went to the NFL was an intriguing thought.
That was until South Carolina thumped the Volunteers, 63-38, on Saturday night. Hendon Hooker tore his ACL, ending his season and his quest for this year's Heisman Trophy. The Volunteers’ defense—a unit that went toe-to-toe with Alabama and played competitively against UGA—made Spencer Rattler look like Superman and the Gamecocks’ offense scored touchdowns on nine of 11 drives.
The outcome was even mind-boggling for the great Steve Spurrier, who reignited his classic banter for a program he got the best of during his time as Florida’s football coach.
Prior to the South Carolina-Tennessee matchup, the Gamecocks had come off a week where the offense was horrendous. And to think on Saturday, South Carolina dropped 60-plus points on the Vols.
“It was as if either Beamer or [offensive coordinator] Marcus Satterfield said, ‘Why don’t we just try to score 50 tonight and see what happens? Every possession, let’s just fire away,’” Spurrier said, per The Post and Courier. “And then they kept hitting and hitting.”
But that wasn’t all. Spurrier took a hilarious shot toward the program as a reminder that the Volunteers would essentially forever remain second fiddle to other programs in the SEC East, even in this season.
“They’re not going to win the division, they’re not going to win the SEC, they’re not going to get in that final four,” Spurrier said, per the Courier. “They’re just going to have a little bit better than average year now. Someone told me, ‘Tennessee is probably headed for the Citrus Bowl now.’ I guess that’s kind of a mean thing to say."
It might be mean but it was not the first time the former six-time SEC champion coach used that line before, dating back to when he stated something similar in the summer of 1997.
“You can’t spell Citrus without UT,” Spurrier said.
For Tennessee’s sake, let’s hope the Volunteers don’t actually land in the Citrus Bowl but rather get selected to another bowl, simply because of Spurrier’s banter. However, if it does happen, it would be hilarious.
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