I know, it's tomorrow. The first game of the season, and the nation's eyes are upon Columbia. Yet instead of dancing around your kitchen to "Sandstorm", you're a nervous wreck. You can't decide between grilling or frying your viewing party meal. You're scouring over depth charts and the latest news (from GamecockCentral, of course) to make sure you know every young man on the roster, down to the lowliest walk-on. You've called your cable guy's cell phone at least 20 times to make sure you're subscribed to the SEC Network. Everything has to be perfect, just like your hopes for the season.
Relax. Take a breather. Remember why you love this team so much. Remember how much fun it's been to watch the Gamecocks, especially recently. Push away all your responsibilities, and spend a few hours watching USC at its best.
1. South Carolina vs. Georgia, 2012
Final Score: 35-7
Why it's fun: Well, the Ol' Ball Coach said himself that he liked playing Georgia earlier in the season, since the Bulldogs would usually be a few men short due to suspensions. Classic Spurrier aside, the Gamecocks showed they were the real deal against a full-strength Georgia team. Shooting off the a 21-0 lead in the first quarter was one way to do it; not giving up a single touchdown until the fourth quarter was another. This is a vintage Clowney game as well, with the young man disrupting things on the line on virtually every play.
Best moment: I'm inclined to say the two-minute span between Busta Anderson catching a touchdown and Ace Sanders returning a bobbled punt for a touchdown, but I have to give some dap to Brent Musburger's Steve Spurrier impression. The velvet-voiced broadcaster actually does a pretty solid Spurrier voice, though I laughed just because of the nuttiness of seeing a legendary broadcaster like Musburger doing something like that. Hilarious.
2. South Carolina at Arkansas, 2013
Final Score: 52-7
Why it's fun: Boy, I feel bad. I really didn't want to put a blowout against a significantly inferior opponent on here, but seeing Connor Shaw rack up four touchdowns, and with this being a candidate for Bruce Ellington's best collegiate game, it's hard to deny this game a place on the list. Plus, Arkansas was still in the thick of its tailspin, and I get some morbid fun out of seeing what Bret Bielema tried to put together against a rolling USC team. A blowout win against an SEC team is a blowout win against an SEC team, though, so I'm going to enjoy every one I get.
Best moment: Brendan Nosovitch touchdown?! Now I've seen everything.
3. South Carolina vs. Clemson, 2011
Final Score: 34-13
Why it's fun: This may be one of the most quintessential Connor Shaw games of all-time, and certainly his crowning moment of the 2011 season. Forgotten was the heartbreak of seeing Stephen Garcia dismissed from the program. This was the night the Gamecocks truly became Connor Shaw's team, as he led them both in passing and rushing, racking up over a hundred yards on the ground and four total touchdowns. It also proved that the two wins against Clemson weren't a fluke, and marked the real turn of the tide in USC's favor, as well as the creation of Tajh Boyd's nightmares for years to come.
Best moment: Connor Shaw to Alshon Jeffery for the last touchdown of the game, an all-too-rare sight during Alshon's last season. You can tell how hungry the fans were to see Alshon get in the endzone again by how all 83,000 of them exploded in joy.
4. South Carolina vs. Alabama, 2010
Final Score: 35-21
Why it's fun: This was history, and I mean real history. Never before had South Carolina beaten a number one-ranked team in football, but more importantly, never had South Carolina beaten anyone this outright good. You wouldn't be alone if you called the 2010 Crimson Tide Nick Saban's best Alabama team, at least on paper. The names on that roster make it hard to believe a team that loaded could even be assembled: Mark Ingram, Greg McElroy, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones are just a few of the names. But it was Stephen Garcia's game of destiny, as he threw three touchdowns in what Spurrier has called the best game of Garcia's career. The excitement that night, the insanity, the incredible feeling watching what had unfolded. South Carolina beat number one Alabama. A truly unbelievable game.
Best moment: A young Marcus Lattimore comes within a hair of breaking a hundred rushing yards, but more importantly, he ran in two very important touchdowns. One of them came at the end of the third quarter, after three consecutive Alabama scores, and the other in the fourth quarter, the last touchdown of the game, and the nail in the coffin for Nick Saban and his mighty men.
5. South Carolina vs. Clemson, 2009
Final Score: 34-17
Why it's fun: Oh right, like I'm not going to put two Clemson games on this list. This was the first year of Gamecock fandom for me, but I quickly understood the importance of this rivalry, and even quicker, I came to hate Clemson. Why was it so easy for me to get attached to South Carolina? This game pretty much illustrates the two reasons: talent and character. Aside from the biggest character of them all, Steve Spurrier, this Gamecock team is littered with guys who you can't help but root for: the shaggy, hard-partying quarterback Stephen Garcia. The mountainous tight end, Weslye Saunders, with his ill-fitting jersey and sure hands. The one-two punch of the hyper-athletic freshman Alshon Jeffrey and Tori Gurley, who I'm positive has never dropped a catch yet. Stephon Gilmore, the pied piper of South Carolina's recruiting class, and one of the most gifted cornerbacks in USC history. Then, of course, there's Kenny Miles, with perhaps his best game ever. Kenny would take a backseat to Marcus Lattimore the next season, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for that young man, and it's very cool to see him rush for more than 100 yards.
Best moment: Every time we see Dabo's Swinney in one of his oversized sweaters. For all the memorable moments, that will truly be burned into my brain.