To that end, the question becomes which Troymaine Pope do the Gamecocks get this week at McNeese State. The sophomore from Anniston has run hot and cold in alternating weeks each of the last six.
He had 24 yards on four carries at Tennessee Tech, then minus-2 at Auburn Peay. He went for 62 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries against Eastern Kentucky, then 11 yards at Eastern Illinois. He had 102 yards and two scores in the regular-season finale against Southeast Missouri, but had 19 yards on 15 carries in last week's playoff opener against Samford.
The Gamecocks are 6-1 when Pope rushes for at least 50 yards (5-0 this year). The only loss was at Arkansas in his JSU debut.
"He's been nicked up," JSU coach Bill Clark said. "We get him pretty well by game game and it seems like every week after a few carries he gets injured again. It's not something that holds him out, but enough to slow him down. Last week, we got to the end of the game, we had to have him in there, but he wasn't at full strength. Hopefully, by the end of the week we can get him well and keep him well throughout the game."
FUN WITH NUMBERS: If you've wondered about JSU's overall strength as a team compared to the others left in the FCS playoffs, just look at the statistics.
If you assign a value to each place they hold in the 25 statistical categories the NCAA lists each week and take the average, the Gamecocks would rank 13th out of the 16 teams playing in the second round (47.80). McNeese would rank fifth (40.20). Of course, some teams' ranking are skewed by a dominating offensive or defensive standing, but the average for the Musky Index takes it all into consideration.
No. 1 overall seed North Dakota State, at 15.80, had a wide edge over the rest of the field. The rest of the field in order: Montana (36.23), Maine (38.0), Eastern Illinois (38.68), Fordham (40.44), SE Louisiana (40.56), South Dakota State (43.32), Towson (43.4), New Hampshire (45.28), Tennessee State (45.32), Sam Houston (47.04), Coastal Carolina (51.64), Eastern Washington (57.52), Furman (57.88).