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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Weekend Watch List: Ol' Ball Coach has new look at Carolina

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It's about time Steve Spurrier got his own statue.

The seal was broken long ago on immortalizing greats who are, you know, still above ground. Bobby Bowden has a statue outside Doak Campbell. Nick Saban is getting one at Alabama. Florida is in the process of erecting statues for its three Heisman winners -- Spurrier, Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel.

Is that really Steve Spurrier out there? The coach's team hardly looks the same relying on defense and running. (US Presswire)  
Is that really Steve Spurrier out there? The coach's team hardly looks the same relying on defense and running. (US Presswire)  
Even if Spurrier had retired five years ago his impact on the game would merit a bronze likeness. But the Duke/Florida/Washington Redskins/South Carolina coach stuck around -- some say too long. Now comes the reinvention phase. South Carolina is about to move to 3-0 for only the second time since 2001 with a win over Furman. Spurrier is doing it with a gnarly defense, a freshman sensation at running back and minus his best tight end.

Any resemblance between this team and classic Spurrier squads of the past is purely coincidental. At least there is progress. There has been a lot of wheel-spinning the past few years. Over the summer the Spur Dog sounded like he had been neutered, resigned to a walk into a legacy-diminished sunset. He averaged seven wins over five seasons in Columbia and started Year 6 with the NCAA sniffing around. Tight end Weslye Saunders was cut loose Wednesday for what Spurrier maintains was a violation of team rules.

It was hard for Cocky to be cocky. Maybe it was just another coach being sucked into the South Carolina vortex. You know, Carolina just being Carolina, a program with an all-time .500 record. (536-536-44).

At worst, Spurrier made two bad post-Florida decisions in a row considering the Redskins job. At best? Ladies and gentleman, meet Marcus Lattimore. He is the freshman sensation that Spurrier said he had to have in recruiting. In-state kid, top national recruit. Spurrier may have redefined the SEC in the '90s, but he's in the business of redefining himself in 2010.

Lattimore's breakout game against Georgia (37 carries, 182 yards) means the Gamecocks have an identity. The punishing tailback already has been compared to South Carolina Heisman winner George Rogers and -- genuflecting here -- Herschel Walker.

"That's only human nature when you have a sensational game like Marcus did last week," Spurrier said. "He has to handle it. We have to handle it. Marcus we're all smart enough to know one game doesn't make a career."

Yeah, but it does give a .500 program hope. Spurrier didn't hesitate to compare Lattimore to one Emmitt Smith. There are a lot of names and possibilities being tossed around for a program that is one game into an eight-game SEC slog. But suddenly Florida isn't scaring anyone. Georgia is already down a tiebreak to the Cocks. If the kid is for real, then the SEC East is suddenly in play. It also takes pressure off quarterback Stephen Garcia.

If that's the case, somewhere Wuerffel is cringing. Does this mean the Ol' Spur Dog is becoming the Ol' Ball Hog?

That would make for one weird-looking statue.

Scoping the Nation

Meanwhile, out in West Texas: Oh, how Texas hates Texas Tech. And vice versa.

Mack Brown is only 3-3 in his Big 12 trips to Lubbock. Each loss has cost the 'Horns dearly. Two years ago, Tech beat Texas with a second to go, setting in motion a series of events that allowed Oklahoma to reach the BCS title game. That was despite the fact Texas had beaten the Sooners.

Time has passed but none of the loathing. Tommy Tuberville can burrow his way into Tech hearts by getting an early advantage in the Big 12 South. Don't bet against Texas defensive back Blake Gideon who should be motivated beyond belief.

Focus on Texas' running game. Brown is starting his third tailback (Fozzy Whittaker) in as many weeks in what has been explained as a committee thing. Controlling the ball might be the difference. Texas has improved marginally from 61st nationally in rushing to 44th. Tuberville's Raiders look a lot like Mike Leach's -- top 11 in passing, seven touchdowns, no interceptions.

'Skers vs. 'Skies: Either Nebraska is going to prove it is ready for the big stage at Washington or Jake Locker is going to legitimize that No. 1 draft projection. The Huskers can lose and still get their revenge on Texas to win the Big 12. U-Dub already lost a winnable game to BYU and could surrender its darkhorse label in the Pac-10.

"It's frustrating, it's hard," Locker, 9-21 as a starter, told USA Today. "Nothing matters but winning football games."

Is the Arkansas game a must-win for Georgia? Not in terms of a bowl or even Mark Richt's job security, but it would be nice for the Dawgs to stay in the SEC East race into the third week of September. Going 0-2 to start the conference season would be bad, especially after getting Lattimored (see above).

If the Dawgs don't play like someone ripped their scholarship money, WWL will be surprised. Richt is 5-0 against Arkansas. Georgia is trying to avoid its first 1-2 start since 1996. Arkansas has won only nine of its last 24 league games. Yeah, Georgia better win.

Margin of victory for Boise State: It's come to that for Boise State, which now will be judged on everything from how it pulls up its socks to how bad it beats its opponents.

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After a bad bye week (Virginia Tech lost to our nation's fourth president) the Broncos go to Wyoming where they are a 21-point favorite.

"We will never be caught up in that," coach Chris Petersen said. "We will play to win and play our hardest ... If you're paying attention to those things, your play will change. I don't think it's one of those situations where they're not going to try hard. They're going to try too hard to live up to these expectations."

Trouble in Tucson: For the second consecutive game, Iowa is missing defensive coordinator Norm Parker because of what has been reported as back pain. The 68-year-old Parker also has long suffered from diabetes having had a toe amputated last year.

Missing Parker is like missing a defensive starter for the Hawkeyes in a game like this. It adds up to being too much for the Hawks, who are going on the road against a ranked opponent. Arizona is one of three teams not to give up a touchdown this season. Look for My Two Nic(k)s -- Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and tailback Nic Grigsby -- to seal the deal.

Looking for volunteers: That's because the upper-case Volunteers are having their manhood questioned. Coming off the school's worst home loss in 105 years to Oregon, the q-word was being thrown around as Florida comes to town.

"I feel like a lot of people quit competing," linebacker Nick Reveiz said.

Not to pile on, but 10 freshmen or sophomores started against Oregon. Derek Dooley is the program's third coach in three years. There have been five offensive coordinators in the last five seasons.

This is probably a good week for the Vols to read their clippings. It might piss them off enough to upset the Gators.

Ingram in to Duke it out: Both Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus return to the Alabama lineup for the Duke game. The Blue Devils tuned up by giving up 54 to Wake Forest. Alabama has gotten ready by returning to familiar places -- top 20 in both offense and defense.

Over/under on Ingram's number of carries before Saban spares him and Duke: 15. Bet the under.

CP7 MIA: Christian Ponder's Twitter account hasn't been updated since an ominous tweet last Friday -- "Landed in OKC". That's been it for the last week. Search parties were able to locate Ponder and the 'Noles after they left Oklahoma 47-17 losers.

To be fair, Ponder isn't a regular Twitter updater but the loss did do all-but-mortal damage to the cp7forheisman.com website. Ponder was 11 for 28 against the Sooners. The Jimbo Fisher rebuilding job begins rebuilding again this week against Brigham Young.

Don't sleep on Farmageddon: That's what they're calling the Kansas State-Iowa State neutral siter at Arrowhead Stadium. On second thought, go ahead and sleep on it. I just like writing "Farmageddon."

Question: Why would Florida and USC like 30 stricken from our number system this week? (Answer below)

Quote of the week from the Ol' Turkey Inseminator:

"Our running backs right now are our biggest playmakers."

--Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell whose team is 84th nationally in rushing and second-last in the SEC.

Answer: This week Florida's Chris Rainey's arrest marked at least the 30th time a Gator was arrested (or faced charges) in Urban Meyer's six seasons. USC will be docked 30 scholarships over the next three years stemming from the Reggie Bush penalties. Diogenes could not be a college football fan.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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