Steve Spurrier doesn’t feel familiar hate from Georgia

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier (AP file)
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier (AP file)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he doesn’t feel that familiar hate from Georgia fans like he faced during his Florida days.

“You’ve got to realize, it’s hard for Georgia to really get mad at South Carolina,” Spurrier said. “They’ve got so many teams they’re mad at or are mad at them.”

Still, he’s doing his best to make Bulldogs supporters just as angry about the Gamecocks.

The sixth-ranked Gamecocks (1-0) have won three straight in the series and four of the past six. South Carolina faces No. 11 Georgia (0-1) on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Spurrier was one of the top targets for angry Georgia fans during his successful run at Florida from 1990 to 2001. Spurrier’s Gators won 11 of 12 over the Bulldogs in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” including the famous game at Athens in 1995 when Florida became the first to score 50 or more points at Sanford Stadium in a 52-17 blowout.

The Gators accomplished that with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the last on a drive — Spurrier called a flea flicker to set up the final score — from backup Eric Kresser with 1:10 remaining.

“We wanted to try to make it a memorable game for the Gators, and it was,” Spurrier said in postgame remarks.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw was a Florida fan growing up in Flowery Branch, Ga., and he remembers the landmark win. He said Spurrier has brought it up this week.

“Oh yeah, we’ve mentioned that,” Shaw said.

Spurrier has long downplayed the milestone, but that hasn’t stopped Georgia fans from detesting “Darth Visor.”

They’ve got some new reasons to dislike South Carolina’s head ball coach as the Gamecocks have come out on top the past few years. And with Spurrier wins come Spurrier woofs, South Carolina’s coach saying last year he liked playing Georgia early in the season “because they always had two or three guys suspended.”

Spurrier’s teams have backed it up on the field in recent years. The Gamecocks behind then-freshman Marcus Lattimore’s 182 rushing yards and two touchdowns won 17-6 in 2010. A season later, South Carolina won “between the hedges” for the second time in the previous three trips in a 45-42 shootout that included two defensive touchdowns and a fake-punt TD.

The Gamecocks won in a blowout in 2012, taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on the way to a 35-7 victory that gave him a 15-5 mark overall in two decades of facing Georgia.

The Bulldogs are desperate not to let that losing streak grow.

“You always circle the games you know you have to win to get where you want to go,” Georgia cornerback Damian Swann said. “And with us not beating South Carolina in a matter of years, I think we’re hungry for one.”

Especially after Georgia fell 38-35 at No. 4 Clemson last week. The Bulldogs held a 21-14 lead midway through the opening half at Death Valley and looked able to move the football on the ground with star tailback Todd Gurley or through the air with quarterback Aaron Murray.

But the Tigers defense stiffened midgame — they forced six straight three-and-outs — as Clemson built a 38-28 lead that the Bulldogs couldn’t overcome. Murray, who was sacked four times despite throwing for 323 yards, knows the offense will have to improve if they hope to defeat South Carolina.

Murray was sitting out a redshirt season in 2009 the last time Georgia defeated the Gamecocks.

“We definitely want to change that before we leave, at least,” he said.

Spurrier believes that, win or lose, he won’t get that much attention from Georgia supporters, who care more about defeating Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn and more traditional rivals.

“They almost had a fight with Vanderbilt a couple years ago — some of their coaches at least,” he said. “So anyway, it’s hard for them to have too many enemies. We still haven’t beaten them enough for them to sort of circle South Carolina.”