Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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! 

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