Thursday, November 29, 2012

Strange 45 year old who still hangs out in 5 points says this is the best Gamecock era ever!


Author - Rusty Crankshaft
November 29, 2012

Although he graduated from Carolina in 1991, Thomas “Harden” Boyette has remained a fixture in the 5 points area ever since.  The 45 year old insurance agent has never let go of his college years, and is a walking time capsule to Gamecock football history.  We caught up with Boyette at Sharky’s recently, and interrupted his hitting on a 19 year old to get his take on the Spurrier era.  After letting us know he had also dated the young lady’s Mother when she was at Carolina, he gave us an interesting perspective.  

“It’s never been this good for football here.  When I started here in 1988, Clemson was dominating us.  Me and my boys used to throw on the MC Hammer pants and head over to Pug’s after games to drown our sorrows.  Their kids all at Carolina with me now and it’s a much happier postgame celebration, I’ll tell you that.  We used to be happy winning 6 or 7 in a season.  Now we’re winning 10 and 11 games and landing national titles in baseball?  Wow!  I never thought I would see it!”  

We asked Boyette if the worst era was the 0-21 streak in the late 90s and he said not at all.  “For me the worst era was just after Night Works closed.  That place would always play ‘Rubberband Man’ for me.  You can’t beat that.  When we lost that place, it was just awful.”  

Steve Spurrier eats 100th bowl of “Bert’s Chili” at Waffle House and asks to keep the bowl


Author - Rusty Crankshaft
November 29, 2012

Local Columbia Waffle House waitress Kendra Spittle figured she would see the Head Ball Coach after Saturday’s win over Clemson.  And sure enough he popped in for his usual late-night meal, a chicken and eggs platter with a bowl of “Bert’s Chili.”  What she didn’t realize was that she was a part of history.  

After Spurrier consumed the meal, he stood up and announced to the restaurant that this was his 100th bowl of chili and that he would be taking the “game bowl” home with him.  Regular WH patron Stanley “Boo” Wannamaker, who often enjoys a cup of coffee with Spurrier when he dines, was happy to be there for the moment.  “You could tell this was a special meal, but we all thought it was about Clemson.  He was beaming as he put the ‘mixed fruit’ jelly on his toast.  Something had a twinkle in old Steve’s eye tonight.”  

Spurrier is known for keeping items to mark his accomplishments of significance.  He holds onto footballs after big wins, empty tubes of brylcreem, old underwear, kindergarten finger-paintings and anything else you can think of.  He says after a brief rinse, this bowl will be displayed right next to the bar of soap and piece of dental floss he was using the day he got engaged.   

Why Dabo is beloved by Tigers AND Gamecocks!

Before anyone misreads the intent of this column’s title, let me say right up front that I am NOT taking a jab at the Tigers.  I really mean this and will explain why I think both schools love Dabo Swinney coaching at Clemson (and want him to remain there for the near future).  Frankly, it is a fascinating part of college football in the Palmetto State.  

Let me start with my friends in orange.  I have talked to many of my Tiger buddies since Saturday night’s rivalry game.  This group includes fans of Clemson who I would call “realistic” and those that better carry the description of “radical.”  Almost all of them still love Dabo despite his record against the Gamecocks.  Based on their comments, you can see why.  Under Swinney, Clemson has bagged its first conference championship since 1991, has landed recruiting classes that are very highly ranked and is really now one of only two ACC teams to whom attention is paid.  Moo U, just like USC, had another 10-win season and is in the top 15 in the nation.  Basically, as I said in a column last year, Dabo is the 2nd coming of Frank Howard, who struggled with Carolina but was beloved by Tiger fans until the day he died.

Gamecock fans also are quite happy with Coach Swinney’s era in Tigertown. He is only the 2nd coach in Clemson history to have a 4-game losing streak to the Gamecocks.  The other?  Frank Howard of course, from 1951-54. In fact, when Dabo took over in 2008, there was a growing worry in Columbia that the Spurrier era was about to fall flat.  After all, Spurrier was 1-2 against Clemson at that point.  When Swinney won that year’s rivalry game as Moo U’s interim coach, he became an orange cult hero.  Meanwhile, the legendary Spurrier was all of a sudden 1-3 against Clemson and reeling.  Then Dabo got the head coach title and the Gamecocks haven’t lost since.  

Then there is Dabo’s personality.  You have to add this into the equation to see why both schools cling to the car salesman in the K-Mart sweatshirt.  Again, much like Coach Howard, Swinney has made going after the Gamecocks a big part of his shtick.  It has both paid dividends and led to devastating consequences.  On the plus side, the red meat he has tossed out has revved up his fan base and rallied them together behind him.  On the other hand, it was the key factor in motivating a Gamecock squad to its fourth-straight victory in the series of late, in a year where they had largely lost the fire.  

Clemson’s coach is already moving on to the next media campaign to keep his fan base behind him.  The target of his new spin is the disrespect the ACC receives nationally.  The great thing about this tactic is that all sides of the argument amongst Tigger fans agree with him.  For those who want to remain in the ACC to enjoy the easy path to 10 wins, Dabo’s comments fit.  They want the conference to continue to receive automatic goodies like multiple BCS berths and guaranteed rankings regardless of merit.  For those who want to leave the ACC because they view Clemson as being “trapped” in a situation that makes them weaker, Dabo’s comments fit.  They want Clemson in the SEC or the Big 12 tomorrow!  

In the meantime, Gamecocks and Tigers are firmly united on one issue:  Dabo should remain the head coach at Clemson!  Whatever the future holds for him, he already has scripted a significant legacy in the rivalry’s annals.  Maybe even one as colorful as old Coach Howard’s.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!  

Monday, November 26, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS Scoreboard Update - Week 13

No change in the score after week 12.  Both The Cock-A-Booster and The TigerSwag picked Clemson to win the game and cover the spread.  Neither occured.  Therefore, we will go into the bowl games with The TigerSwag holding on to a touchdown lead. 

We will post the bowl games and point spreads as soon as they are announced.

Top 10 Clemson excuses after Saturday’s loss to South Carolina

10.  “I was only using 81% of my offense.  I just forgot the other notebook.”  Chad Morris
9.  “I spent too much time working on my Heisman pose.”  Tajh Boyd
8.  “We played someone on Saturday night?”  Sammy Watkins
7.  “SEC Refs cheated!”  Every drunk Tiger fan in South Carolina!
6.  “I hate Will Merritt.”  Pete Yannity
5.  “I could eat Todd Ellis in one meal with a little hot sauce.”  Will Merritt
4.  “They shouldn’t be able to start a backup QB.  We only got ready for Shaw.”  Brent Venables
3.  “We didn’t lose.  They may have gotten more points but we play teams that good all the time in practice.”  Dalton Freeman
2.  “Don’t look at me.  I used to whip the Gamecocks every season.”  Tommy Bowden
1.  “Spurrier is so mean to me.  What a JERK!  I love that man…  Dabo Swinney

Clemson Petitions NCAA for ACC Bowl Opponent


After watching his team get carved up by his SEC rivals for the fourth straight season, Clemson Football Coach Dabo Swinney has a solution to the problem.  “We’re going to just see if we can play an ACC team in the bowl,” said Swinney, who feels that would keep the Tigers from another non-conference embarrassment.  “Yes, any ACC team that is not named ‘Florida State’ will be fine.  Or if it must be an SEC team, we would prefer Kentucky or Auburn again.”  

Last year, Clemson was destroyed by South Carolina in the regular season finale and wasted a BCS bid by winning the ACC.  West Virginia won the “who gets to beat up the ACC team” lottery by being paired off with the Tigers and rolling up 70 points.  Swinney feels like keeping the ACC teams playing each other in the bowl games is the only way to keep their fan bases fooled that improvement is occurring.  “As quickly as possible, I need to put 50 or 60 on somebody.  How about Maryland or Duke?”  

In reaction, the NCAA is once again planning major apologies to whichever network is forced to carry the ACC oriented BCS bowl game.  

The Cockabooster missed it badly!

As the final seconds were ticking off the clock at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night, you got the feeling that more than just a football game was over.  In addition to winning their fourth straight game over Clemson, Carolina’s Gamecocks shattered several myths and made sure an immature coach’s staged ugly rant the year before had been answered with vigor.  

If you read this blog, you know that I myself had fully bought into a few of those myths, so I am NOT trying to throw stones at anyone.  I picked Clemson to win on Saturday by 17 points, and I did so because I thought intangibles would give one team a decided edge over the other.  I was right about that, but I missed by a mile as to which particular intangibles would be the key.  

I thought Connor Shaw being hurt would give Clemson a HUGE edge under center.  I only doubled down on that feeling a few hours before kickoff when I heard Dylan Thompson would be the starter.  After all, who would ever expect a quarterback making their first start in a hostile road environment to thrive?  I mean, he would NEVER do something like throw for three touchdowns and over 300 yards would he?  Especially one that loves his relationship with the Lord and chooses to tweet scripture instead of trash talk!  (Don’t believe me then follow him on Twitter and see for yourself)  Congratulations to Dylan for becoming an overnight permanent chapter in the rivalry’s storied history!  QB controversy in Columbia?  Only time will tell.  

The other intangible I said would favor Clemson was the “want to” or “passion” level in both teams.  Going into Saturday, it had been a long time since I really saw a “fire in the belly” burning in the Gamecocks.  Meanwhile, Clemson’s entire psyche and existence was dependent on them beating us.  Everything for them assumed a victory over USC:  The justification of their schedule, propping up the ACC, pretending Tajh was a real candidate for the Heisman, stealing a BCS bid, etc, etc.  ALL OF IT was standing on a foundation that Clemson WOULD beat South Carolina.  So you can see why I gave them the edge here.  And I was dead wrong.  

It turns out that Carolina had buckets of passionate “want to” driving them also, and it was largely based on two things:  Dabo’s staged rant and Dalton Freeman’s trash talking to Jadeveon Clowney.  First let’s review the basics about Dabo’s rant:  1. Spurrier never said the quote that was cited; 2. According to upstate newspapers and several other Tiger sources, Dabo knew for days ahead of the rant that Spurrier had not said it (but he did the rant anyway); 3. Dabo went after the entire University, not just the football program, including the entire alumni base and the existence of the school itself; 4. Dabo never publicly admitted that the event was staged even after everyone confirmed it was.  Now I have known all of this for a while.  Frankly, most folks knew it right after it happened.  But I underestimated just how much that rant would still be fueling Carolina headed into Saturday.  Now Spurrier went on to take a couple of VERY minor jabs at Dabo after that, which led to some faux outrage in Orange-land.  But the two are not comparable.  Bananas and Tomatoes are both fruits but they are hardly the same.  

And as to Dalton Freeman, I want to personally thank him for firing up Mr. Clowney.  I hope Clemson next year chooses a similar tact with #7.  The next Tiger blocking Clowney should call him “just another good player” again and harp on how they play against players as good as him every day in the ACC.  The results speak for themselves.  

So a memorable if not notorious year has ended for both programs.  The door closes on all that silliness and we move on to the bowls and then 2013.  After all, both teams are 10-2 and highly ranked.  Clemson has a very good group returning next year, as does South Carolina.  We have two great programs in the Palmetto State and a nationally relevant rivalry.  Finally, I don’t see the new calmer and maturing Dabo pulling a stupid stunt again as a fan distraction, and I bet trash talk from players on both sides will be minimized if not eliminated completely.  

As a blog that wants fans with both spurs and stripes to enjoy the reading, I know another great season for both schools would be just what the doctor ordered.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Crystal Ball Speaks...(and it is not good for the Garnet and Black!)

LSU at Arkansas
The Ozark Porkskins will be in a friendly trough this weekend, as they try and declaw some cackling hyenas from the gumbo coast.  Les Miles did a whole lot of meowing last week, and his pride may be sound asleep.  The home hoggies have had weak snouts this fall, but they just might root out a truffle when this one is done.     
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says... LSU by 2

Auburn at Alabama
Gene Chizik is in serious hot water of late, and he may need a strong showing on Saturday to cool things off.  Trying to land some ivory in Bryant-Denny will be a tall order, and the War Eagle Cats may not have a loud enough roar.  The Elegant Elephants will be ready for the Plains Poachers, and will administer a trampling when the day is done.      
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says... Alabama by 13

Georgia Tech at Georgia
The Slide Rule Insects from the Atlanta Beehive buzz into Athens on Saturday, hoping to jam some gridiron stingers into the Sanford Stadium Puppies.  The Red Clay Hounds will have the home kennel barking loudly, and they should avoid any problems from the yellow swarm.      
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says... Georgia by 16

Florida at Florida State
The Gainesville Bog Lizards will crawl into the Citrus Capital City this weekend, hoping to chomp down some wigwams and spears from Chief Osceola’s Tribe.  The Tallahassee Teepee Dwellers will have fresh warpaint on their faces, and they will be ready to do some skinning.    
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says... Florida State by 3

South Carolina at Clemson
Dabo the Crazy and his Purple Kittens will have the Pickens County Scratching Post high on catnip this weekend, as they welcome in some limping roosters from the Midlands.  Steve Spurrier has gotten the best of the Sister Kissers of late, but the football gods are aligning behind the Orangies in this one.  
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says... Clemson by 17


CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 13 - USC vs. CLEMSON!

Weekend of November 24, 2012

South Carolina at Clemson
(Clemson is favored by 4 points)


I will say this right off the bat.  I have finally lived long enough to see a year where Clemson fans have completely lost their minds in desperation to beat Carolina, while Carolina fans are dealing with the “disappointment” of a 9-win season.  As a man who has lived through 3 separate 4-game losing streaks to Clemson, I am dadgum happy to be in this spot for a change. 

Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, all of the stars appear to have finally aligned to get Dabo a meaningful win (unless you count the world’s tallest midget title, aka the ACC championship from last year).  Sure, he used Tommy Bowden’s players to grab a win over us when he first arrived in Tiger Town, but since then he has been getting beat up pretty good by Spurrier. 

Clemson’s strength plays right against what I see is Carolina’s 1 real weakness.  The Tigers have plenty of speed and depth at receiver, while the Achilles’ heel for Carolina this year has been our defensive back play.  Hopkins and Ford are fun to watch and Sammy may even avoid getting stoned to play well himself.  So I expect Clemson to strike aggressively early to try and build a lead before we settle down. 

That in and of itself wouldn’t bother me if I had confidence in Connor Shaw on the road, which I don’t.  Clemson is tired of being gutted by Kenny Miles so they will stop him and drop into the same deep zone that has given Shaw fits this year.  We will get some points against Clemson’s defense.  No doubt about that.  But I just don’t see us winning an up-tempo shootout. 

If the game is in the teens or low 20s and close late then it’s a different story.  (Think Stanford-Oregon as the type of game the Gamecocks want to see.)  But I just have a gut feeling that this is Clemson’s year to have the breaks fall their way.  The Tigers build a lead early, the Gamecocks fight back and then Clemson pulls away late.

Clemson 41, South Carolina 24
Clemson wins and covers the four point spread.


On Saturday night, you have to ask yourself: “Who do you trust?”  And how you answer that question will determine who you think will win.

The first question: Do you trust Spurrier or Dabo?
If this was an ethics exam, I’d take Dabo.  If this was a golf match, I’d take Spurrier.

But it’s neither.  The question is when the lights come one and the ball is snapped, who do you trust.  For X’s & O’s, I’d take Spurrier.  For personnel management, motivation, and trust, I’d take Dabo.  For ego, it’d be a tie.

Both coaches will throw everything they have at the other, and lately that’s gone Spurrier’s way.  But as we’ve seen, Dabo and Morris always have a few tricks up their sleeves.

The second question: Do you trust UCS’ O or Clemson’s D?
If this UCS team had a healthy Lattimore and one more year of Alshon, I’d take UCS, in a heartbeat.  But this isn’t a great offense and they don’t have Lattimore or Alshon, but I’d still take UCS’ O, just in two heartbeats.

The Clemson defense is just plain bad.  We thought they were improving, but after NC State dropped 48 on them, we knew better.  And more than that, they gave up huge plays as State had four 1-play touchdown drives.  UCS will have offensive success; the question will be can Clemson make some stops.

The third question: Do you trust Clemson’ O or UCS’ D?
Early in the year, especially after the Georgia game, this was a closer call.  Clemson’s offense was prolific, but UCS had shown it was capable of shutting down big time offenses.  Since then, they’ve given up 44 to Florida, 35 to Tennessee, and 20 to Arkansas, which should’ve been worse.  Meanwhile Clemson has scored at least 26 in every game and scored at least 37 in 10 straight games.

The final questions: Do you trust Connor Shaw on the road?
This is more of a Yes/No rather than an Either/Or.

UCS has only played four games away from the armpit: wins at Vandy & Kentucky and losses at LSU and Florida.  Their best offensive performance was 38 points at Kentucky, a game they trailed by 10 at the half.

If you are comfortable with Shaw performing well away from his jort wearing, mullet-haired friends, then you take UCS and the points.  If not, then you take Clemson.

As for me, and my house, we’ll take the orange.

Clemson 30, UCS 23
Clemson wins and covers the point spread.


Monday, November 19, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Scoreboard Update after Week 12


The Cock-A-Booster and The TigerSwag both picked up 13 points each this week.  Both picked USC to handle their in-state battle with Wofford (3 points for picking the winner - no line in the game).  In addition, both picked Clemson to beat NC State but not cover the 17 point spread.  Clemson won by 14.  So, they both received 3 points for picking the winner and both received 10 points for picking NC State to keep it under the number.


South Carolina at CLEMSON (Clemson is favored to win by 4 points)

It’s all about the intangibles

Some folks seem to misunderstand why I think Clemson will beat Carolina this weekend.  It actually has nothing to do with the Tigers.  It has EVERYTHING to do with our issues that I discussed last week.  Is Clemson improved?  Sure they are.  The South Florida-purchased talent alone illustrates that.  Hopkins is just outstanding, Ellington is a star and Ford is underrated.  The whole world understands that Clemson is capable of scoring points and quickly.  

But overall, the Tiggers are largely blustery hype and the product of a weak schedule that hides a very bad defense.  If it weren’t for OUR problems I would feel differently.  If the question were simply, “Who is the better team” I would pick the Gamecocks.  That is NOT the question before us on Saturday.  I have to pick who is going to win this particular game.  I had no problem predicting that Carolina would win the last two years, and I would like to be able to do that again.  I can’t.  NOT because of Clemson’s positives.  It’s largely due to our negatives.  

First off, our quarterback has yet to produce a big-time performance on the road in a hostile environment.  What makes anyone think that will magically appear this weekend?  Shaw plays like a different person at home.  (Granted, I could say the same thing about Tajh if the game were in Columbia.  It’s not.)  I love Shaw and I am glad we have a Choir-boy under center because that is what Spurrier likes.  But this is one of those weekends where we could really use old hungover Garcia with his very large set of, well, you know.  This home/away schizophrenia from Shaw is an intangible that favors Clemson. 

Second, in games like this I am old-school in that I believe hunger and passion and “want to” matter big time.  Does anyone sense a fire underneath us entering this game?  After we were taken out of national title contention and lost Marcus, I have seen just the opposite.  D. J. aside, who plays with PLENTY of fire every week, I think we have been largely jogging through the motions and running out the season.  Meanwhile, Clemson is VERY hungry to beat us in anything.  I honestly could see mass tractor suicide if we won.  This intensity gap is real and another intangible that favors the Tigers.  

To me, these two intangibles will be the deciding factors.  Heck, when it comes to the non-emotion football stuff I like USC.  For example, I think we have the capability to get more pressure on Boyd than anyone else has, and the more I think about our “bend but don’t break” defensive approach, it actually could be the right approach for this weekend.  We have more than enough depth to handle the “lots and lots of offensive plays” scheme from Morris.  

And Spurrier has shown several times he can outcoach the poor man’s Lane Kiffin.  But Kiffin the sequel is being handed a similar setting that the original Lane had a few years back against Spurrier.  A limping and lethargic Gamecock squad went into Neyland that night and lost badly despite being better on paper in my humble opinion.  We are that flat right now and that’s why the Orange Kool Aid will be flowing on Saturday.  This is one of those rare cases where the good betting money is on style over substance.  And that’s why I see Clemson winning and really winning pretty easily.  I hope I am wrong.  

On a positive note this week, let me say how much I am enjoying the new hoops era under Frank Martin.  VERY intense guy and although we will struggle this year for wins it is so nice to see us actually running an offense again in basketball.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 12


Weekend of November 17, 2012

Wofford at South Carolina
(No Line)


Why do we schedule teams that play this kind of offense?  If there was a line on this game, I would probably take the Terriers and the points because you know Carolina has to be gearing up a bit for the trip to the Sister-Marrying Capital of the World next week.  

Mike Ayers is one of my favorites and like he always does, he will come into Columbia, go for it all day on 4th down, run that pesky offense that drives you nuts and keep it close most of the day.  This game has been WAY too close for comfort in the past and I am sure the fannies will all be nervous on Saturday.  

Gamecocks get out of the game with a win, a big exhale, and hopefully will avoid any new injuries.    
South Carolina 30
Wofford 24


UCS has always wanted to be part of the big boy club.  When in the ACC, they realized basketball belonged to the Research Triangle and football belonged to Clemson, so they left for greener grasses of independence.  After wandering the desert for 30 years with no shoulder to cry on, they thought the SEC would at least provide companionship.  But years of mediocrity made them sit at the kid's table during major holidays.  They went through phases: rebellion (Tanneyhill), bad boy (Newton & Watson), therapy (Holtz), and even grunge (Garcia), but the results were the same.

Eventually, the bias too strong, the money too good, and the hotels too cheap to keep them in the land of mediocrity.  They were even able to break up the Orange Crush (how come they never had a nickname for the gauntlet of Vandy, Kentucky, & the Mississippi's?).  They even had the audacity to bite the hand that fed them by blaming the SEC for their schedule.

And now it looks like they've finally learned the secret password and handshake to join the SEC's inner circle - at least when it comes to scheduling out of conference games in November.  This week, UCS joins Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, and Texas A&M in going outside of their conference against FCS opponents.  Now Spurrier claims Wofford is as good as some of those SEC schools they play.  Not sure if he is referencing Florida & LSU or Kentucky & Arkansas.  Considering one half are NFL caliber teams, he must be comparing the bottom half of the SEC to FCS schools.  And UCS treats Wofford like such.

UCS 44
Wofford 13


N.C. State at Clemson
(Clemson is favored by 17)


This is the final installment of the Clemson cupcake tour happens on Saturday, and then we can finally see them play a Division 1 opponent next week.  To be fair, N. C. State is probably the best of that bad bunch that Clemson enjoys beating up.  If this game were in Raleigh, I would even say the kitten backers ought to be worried.  

And Clemson easily could be looking ahead a bit and yes, if they loaf around too long and this one slips into the 4th quarter it could become a big headache.  Clemson’s defense is still not very good so State can get some points if they handle being on the road.  

I am sure that Dabbles is reminding them that the Pack beat Clemson badly last year but I seriously doubt anything but Carolina is on the Tigers minds at this point.  Too much Florida-purchased talent to call for the upset here, but I will take the points.   

Clemson 35
N. C. State 21

Clemson wins but does not cover the point spread.


Clemson starts Week 1 of a two week revenge tour against NC State, a team that embarrassed Clemson last year in Raleigh.  This NC State team still wants to throw the ball around - and will with pretty good success as the Clemson secondary is still raw. 

But this NC State defense is not the same as last year as they've given up at least 33 points in each of their four losses, including 43 UNC and 44 to Miami.  In comparison, Clemson has scored at least 37 points in their last 9 games.

Which will win - NC State's defense or Clemson's offense?  Last year: NC State, at home.  This year: Clemson, at home.

But, NC State's offense will do what the last few teams couldn't - keep it close.  Clemson wins the game by double digits, but not until the 4th quarter - and not by the 17 point spread.

Clemson 41
NC State 27

Clemson wins but does not cover the point spread.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS Scoreboard Update - After Week 11

The Cock-A-Booster again cuts into The TigerSwag lead after week 11.  The Cock-A-Booster got both of his picks correct last week picking both USC and Clemson to win and cover their point spreads.  As a result, he picks up 20 points.

The TigerSwag only picks up 13 points.  He correctly picked the winners of both games, but missed on his Clemson Tigers by not picking them to cover the 27.5 point spread. 

As we head down the home stretch, the race has begun tightened.  SHOULD BE INTERESTING!


Wofford vs. SOUTH CAROLINA (No line as of 11/13/12)
NC State vs. CLEMSON (Clemson is favored by 17 points)

Why this year favors the Tigers


If you know me at all, then you are aware of the fact that I always call it like I see it when it comes to Carolina.  Am I a Gamecock fan all the way?  Yes indeed but I take my picks seriously.  Also, I am not one of these self-loathing negative Gamecocks who almost takes pride running their own school into the ground to get the attention.  Those people should honestly go stick a fork in a light socket.  Actually, I have picked us to win in 9 of 10 games this year.  My one error was picking us to beat Florida.  And honestly if our offense had decided to get off the bus and not fumble away the first half even that might have been right but I digress.   

And so we’re on the verge of the Clemson game.  Assuming we take care of business against Wofford, and they get by the last high school team on their “schedule,” it will be 10-1 vs. 9-2.  VERY exciting setting to say the least.  Last year I picked us to beat Clemson, as I did the year before when we played at Death Valley.  This year I can’t do that.  There are just too many things pointing in the Tigers’ direction:  

  1. Clemson’s main strength is paired off against what I see as our main weakness.  When we have faced decent QBs this year, our defensive backs for the most part have been gashed badly and often.  The one exception to this is Georgia of course but that was a home game.  
  2. I hate to say it, but outside of playing through pain at Vandy this year, has Connor Shaw really done much on the road?  He threw a fade pass to Alshon at MSU last year, and he was efficient enough to get wins against Tennessee, Vandy and Kentucky as well.  But those wins don’t stand out nearly as much as his losses do in my opinion.  Arkansas last year, LSU and Florida this year.  Clemson may not be as good as those teams on paper, but I will promise you they will come out playing like they are.  
  3.  Every tractor with a drunk pair of married siblings will come down those hills and make the Pickens County Cathouse a wild scene.  We haven't exactly handled hostle environments so far.
  4. Clemson fans are well beyond psychotically deranged about beating us this year.  Yes, yes, the school was founded on hating Columbia and they always want to beat us but it is comical how much they hate Carolina right now.  And when you have 1 real team on the schedule, you can bet they have been counting the days to this game.  We will get their best effort on both sides of the ball and we should know that going in.     
  5. Meanwhile, we have nothing really to play for except for pride and extending our roughly 1500 day streak since they last beat us.  Spurrier is 4-3 against the Tiggers, and of course we have 3 in a row.  Do you ALWAYS want to beat your rival?  Sure.  But the intensity and desperation are always with the current losers.  

Now I am not saying we “cannot win” at all.  I realize that there are some reasons to be optimistic too.  Here are some positives: 

  1. Our D has not broken all that often even with the large amount of “bending” against passing teams.  Aside from the quirky Florida game which was more about our offense fumbling than our D breaking, and 1 really bad game against Tennessee, our defense has yielded 13 points per game.  
  2. By far we are the best defense Clemson will face.  Tajh hasn’t exactly shined under pressure and adversity himself.  Florida State has played basically the same group of cupcakes Clemson has, so who knows if they are any good either?  And yes, we are very likely to get more pressure on him than anyone else has this year which could lead to some typical Tajh Boyd bonehead mistakes.  
  3. Their defense isn’t exactly something to write home about.  If we even have a “normal” offensive game we will get points on them.   
  4.  Despite being the team that doesn’t have much to prove, there are some real incentives out there in terms of history for us to shoot for.  We could have two 10-win regular seasons in a row for the first time ever.  We are honestly still in the discussion for an at-large BCS bid, although it is a long shot and I certainly have never seen a group of seniors leave Carolina with 4 wins in the rivalry.  
  5. Our Coach is better than theirs and practically lives in his head.  Dabo is so obsessed with Spurrier I could easily see him doing something stupid to try and prove he can coach like a big boy.  The one intangible we have going for us to be frank.

Bottom line?  Very intriguing theatre all the way around in this year’s matchup and I understand a major injury either way could change things before next week.  But as of right now, if I had to place a big wager I would take the Tigers to win.  I hope I am wrong.  

Regardless, congratulations to USC for their second straight 6-win SEC season!  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crystal Ball - Week 11

Missouri at Tennessee
The Columbia West Ocelots will prowl into the hills this weekend, hoping to skin up Old Smoky before his afternoon nap.  The Knoxville Mountain Troopers will have their rifles ready, but their aim has been in question all season.  Derek Dooley may not be the general of the brigade much longer if their shooting doesn’t improve quickly.   
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...Tennessee by 5

Louisiana-Lafayette at Florida
The Pigskin Lizards from the Gainesville Bog will be swimming in earnest on Saturday, and their hoping some red-hot Gumbo from the Bayou.  The Visitors from the Backwater know how to throw a tantrum and they’ll come in angry, but that will only add some spice to the Crocodiles’ meal.  Will Muschamp’s face will be red because of the food instead of a fit for a change.           
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...Florida by 16

Texas A & M at Alabama
Nick Saban and the Elegant Elephants will open up the Tuscaloosa Feeding Grounds this weekend, and they plan to trample up some Cowboys from College Station for some gridiron exercise.  The visiting calf-ropers will bring some shiny lassos with them when they arrive, and they think they’ll snag some ivory for a souvenir.  It’s tough to drag a Pachyderm anywhere near Houston.    
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...Alabama by 9

Georgia at Auburn
The propped up puppies from East Georgia leave their flea-ridden water dish this weekend, hoping to hike their legs on Jordan-Hare while the local felines are wounded.  Gene Chizik is about to be declawed if he’s not careful, and his Plains Lions better be ready to roar.  If Mark Richt can avoid a neutering during the visit, his barkers will get an unearned trip to Atlanta. 
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...Georgia by 7

Miss. State at LSU
The Bayou Bengals saw their dreams die at Death Valley last week, so look for them to be a little flat when some drooling barkers rumble in from Magnolia Country.  The Starkville K9s will be ready to bury the Mad Hatter, but he will have the home den in a frenzy by kickoff.  Tough to be that high on catnip two Saturdays in a row.
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...Miss. State by 3 in a mild upset

Maryland at Clemson
Dabo Swinney and his Heisman Orangies open up the Pickens County Scratching Post this weekend, ready to cook up a pot of turtle stew for a weekend treat.  The ancient crawlers have six shells left on the roster, so it won’t be long before they are part of the recipe.  The Meow Mix should be full of bourbon at the Esso Club when this one is done.      
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...Clesmson by 46

Arkansas at South Carolina
The Richland County Rooster Farm will be open for business on Saturday, and Steve Spurrier is planning to serve up some Ozark BBQ as an afternoon treat.  The Fayetteville Oinkers have had dented snouts all year, but they usually enjoy giving these Poultries a plucking.  It will be a tight affair for a while, but Pork is what’s for dinner when the day is done. 
The Cock-A-Booster Crystal ball says...South Carolina by 16