For the most part, except for a few comments when the schedule was released and then here and there, I've stayed out of the discussion over the changes to the changes in the schedule this year for South Carolina and Georgia. So let's go ahead and say it: Georgia got an easier schedule than it would have and than South Carolina got this year. So what?
Ever since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992, some teams in a given division have gotten an easier schedule and some teams have gotten a more difficult one. Yes, Georgia took an unconventional route to the easier schedule this year, but everything about this year's schedule was going to be unconventional. Steve Spurrier has highlighted an issue that's always been an issue in the conference, even if his "solution" to it -- the cockamamie idea that some SEC games shouldn't count as SEC games -- was worse than the problem.
But the fact of the matter is also this: If South Carolina had defeated an Auburn team that Georgia defeated last year, the Gamecocks would have gone to Atlanta. Yes, the loss to Arkansas hurt, but Georgia went 5-0 against common opponents last year and South Carolina went 4-1. That's why the Gamecocks didn't go to the SEC Championship Game.
At the same time, I've never bought the argument that the Georgia-South Carolina game being early in the year helped the Gamecocks, even at the margin. (The lone exception being 2007, when Jasper Brinkley's injury against LSU deeply hurt the South Carolina defense.) One of the things that makes college football interesting is that some teams just give other teams trouble.
The parallel is the South Carolina-Kentucky series. Last year's 54-3 demolition was the exception to the rule. Even during South Carolina's 10-game winning streak over Kentucky from 2000-09, only three games were won by more than a touchdown and only two were routs. And one of the worse Kentucky teams of the late Brooks-early Phillips Era beat one of the better South Carolina teams of that same era. There's not really any logical reason for any of it.
This year, though, none of that will factor into this. Georgia should be able to beat South Carolina and play well enough the rest of the year to get to the SEC Championship Game -- where the SEC West champions will win. Again. (You'll find out who that is next week.) But the outcome of the Gamecocks-Bulldogs football game and the outcome of their rivalry for the SEC East will not be decided on the schedule. It almost never is.
Place: 1st in the SEC East
Record: 12-0, 8-0 SEC
Could be: 9-3 to 12-0
Best chance to be upset: at MISSOURI
9.1.12 | BUFFALO | WIN
9.8.12 | at MISSOURI | POSSIBLE WIN
9.15.12 | FAU | WIN
9.22.12 | VANDERBILT | PROBABLE WIN
9.29.12 | TENNESSEE | PROBABLE WIN
10.6.12 | at SOUTH CAROLINA | POSSIBLE WIN
10.20.12 | at KENTUCKY | PROBABLE WIN
10.27.12 | FLORIDA (Jacksonville) | POSSIBLE WIN
11.3.12 | OLE MISS | PROBABLE WIN
11.10.12 | at AUBURN | POSSIBLE WIN
11.17.12 | GEORGIA SOUTHERN | WIN
11.24.12 | GEORGIA TECH | POSSIBLE WIN
Place: 2nd in the SEC East
Record: 10-2, 6-2 SEC
Could be: 8-4 to 11-1
Best chance for to be upset: at VANDERBILT
8.30.12 | at VANDERBILT | POSSIBLE WIN
9.8.12 | EAST CAROLINA | PROBABLE WIN
9.15.12 | UAB | WIN
9.22.12 | MISSOURI | POSSIBLE WIN
9.29.12 | at KENTUCKY | LIKELY WIN
10.6.12 | GEORGIA | POSSIBLE LOSS
10.13.12 | at LSU | LIKELY LOSS
10.20.12 | at FLORIDA | POSSIBLE WIN
10.27.12 | TENNESSEE | POSSIBLE WIN
11.10.12 | ARKANSAS | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.17.12 | WOFFORD | LIKELY WIN
11.24.12 | at CLEMSON | POSSIBLE WIN
Key (from least likely to win to most): Loss, Likely Loss, Probable Loss, Possible Loss, Possible Win, Probable Win, Likely Win, Win