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South Carolina vs. Navy Preview: The Gamecocks Face Their History

Navy Midshipmen vs. South Carolina Gamecocks, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

For all the talk you've heard about South Carolina's fateful matchup with Navy in 1984, when the Midshepmen knocked the Gamecocks out of the hunt for a national title, the teams have met twice since then. Neither game had stakes that were as high, but both games ended up as South Carolina wins. In 1985, they survived with a 34-31 win; the 1988 game was a 19-7 victory for the Gamecocks.

So this isn't a revenge game in the strictest sense of the word. Except that none of the teams that beat Navy before had the sky-high expectations that this team faces, meaning that the wins did not have the same cathartic effect that you would expect from a revenge game.

This time, it's different. This year's Gamecocks entered the season as a favorite in the SEC East this year, though the uneven play over the first couple of games has eroded that status a bit. Defeating Navy and it's triple-option attack this time around would be the first step in ridding Gamecocks fans of a 27-year-old "what if?"

And the triple-option part of that sentence is key. The Gamecocks have often struggled with option attacks by less-talented foes in the past. And while Navy is not a team with SEC talent, it's also not a team with Wofford talent, and that could cause the Gamecocks even more trouble than they're used to.

There's a reason that South Carolina has come this far -- they're a pretty good team. Maybe not good enough to win the SEC East, at least not yet, but good enough to defeat the ghosts of their past.

South Carolina 27, Navy 14