This Saturday's Southeastern Conference football championship game may have the most appreciative participants in the 19-year history of the event.
South Carolina has earned its first title-game berth since joining the SEC in 1992, while Auburn is just two years removed from a 5-7 season in which its only victory after September came at the expense of UT-Martin. Neither team was picked to win its division or finish runner-up during the league's media days event in July, making this the most unexpected SEC championship yet.
"Our players set lofty goals this year," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday. "They set goals a lot of people maybe would have laughed at in the beginning of the year."