Wednesday, November 27, 2013

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 14

 Weekend of November 30, 2013


Not sure which cliché to pull out of the cupboard for this year’s contest. You can throw out the records when these teams get together. Well, actually you can’t. Over the course of the series, the better, or favored team, typically wins. Defense wins championships? Well, until USC wins a championship, this one stays in the bag. The crowd will be the factor – take the home team. Even though USC has won the last two in Columbia, Clemson has won 11 of the last 15 in Columbia. Actually, Clemson has more series wins in Columbia than they do in Clemson. In fact, Clemson has more series wins in Columbia that South Carolina does. Take it one play at a time. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Over the last four years, South Carolina has averaged more plays than Clemson, and has won all four. Control the ball and you control the game. Again, USC has owned time of possession in the last four games. Win the turnover battle and you win the game.  Ding, Ding, Ding. In each of the last six Clemson-Carolina game (and nine of last ten), the winning team also won the turnover battle.

On the season, South Carolina has been feast or famine when it comes to turnovers. They have three games with at least three turnovers and four games with no turnovers, including the last three (against Miss State, Florida, & Coastal nonetheless). On the other hand, Clemson is typically good for at least one miscue. Clemson has just one game where it lost the turnover battle: Florida State, meanwhile South Carolina has lost the turnover battle in five of their games, including both losses.

Look for Clemson to come out focused and aggressive early as they try to establish themselves. If it works, Clemson could ride that momentum all night long. If they struggle, they could find themselves singing here we go again, but regardless, they must hold on to the ball and take it a few times from their kid brother.

 In the end, it works as Clemson stays the course and USC makes a few mistakes, and Clemson leaves Williams-Brice with a streak busting and BCS sealing win.

Clemson 27
South Carolina 23


I have been just roasted by my Gamecock friends because I am picking the Tigers to win this year, and I will concede that my Tiger friends’ behavior has me suspicious that I may have misread things. But I always trust my gut instinct and am honest about what I think will happen. Too many intangibles are pointing in the Klimpletons direction this year.

First, Clemson’s strength plays right into our weakness. We have been consistently exposed in the middle of our defense this year. So the Tiggers will get some points and big plays. Second, this is the first season where the conference officials have something to protect: Clemson’s unearned at-large BCS bid. I have never liked the road team bringing their conference refs, but this is the first year that I think they will actually affect the outcome of the game. Finally, there is the winning streak. Carolina has faced a five-game losing streak to the kittens four times in my lifetime. All four times- 1984, 1992 and 2001 and 2006- we won the game.

There are certainly reasons to like USC as well. Connor Shaw’s last game at home in which he certainly doesn’t want to go out losing his first time to Moo U, our run game without a doubt being one of the best they have faced, our defense only being the 2nd fact that they still have my favorite drooling, deranged lunatic in a sweatshirt coaching them. (Again,  if Clemson does win, I can’t wait to hear him declare himself the best Clemson Coach to ever go 2-4 against Carolina.)

Perhaps more than ever, the first 1/3 of this game will likely tell the tale. Clemson wants to come out smoking and build a big lead, which will make Shaw’s arm beat them and keep us away from our desire to use ball-control and time of possession. I think they’ll be able to do so, and we’ll have a different form of “animal husbandry” going in pickup trucks all along Bluff Road when the night is done.

Clemson 31
South Carolina 20




Monday, November 25, 2013



A LOOK BACK AT 2012...

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 13 Scoreboard

After a slight warm-up game before the big Clemson vs. USC showdown, both participants scored 13 points this week.  The Cock-A-Booster was closest in picking the spread of the Clemson/Citadel game (he receives 3 points for picking the winner and 7 for being closest to the spread), while the TigerSwag made hay by being the closest to picking the spread on the USC/Costal game (he receives 3 points for picking the winner and 7 for being closest to the spread).  In addition to each picking up 10 points in separate games, they both got an additional 3 points for picking the winner of the game in which they lost on attempting to guess the spread.   I realize this is very confusing, so.....(it was basically a tie this week).  The cumulative scoreboard still shows a 9 point overall advantage to The TigerSwag going into the big game in Columbia this weekend.  Early lines show USC as a 4.5 point favorite to extend their winning streak over Clemson. 

Here is THE GAME of the week for our two competitors:


Ricky Bobby invades on Saturday!

Carolina-Clemson week is finally upon us!  The 9-2 Gamecocks are back in the Top 10 in both polls this week after just shellacking the Myrtle Beach Mudhens on Saturday.  Lots of hurting starters got some much-needed rest and we survived the in-state contest with very little damage and no major injuries.  

Enter in our very cocky and over-confident hillbilly cousins in Orange Overalls, and it must be rivalry time.  The loud-talking kittens feel like this is their year to end their losing streak to USC.  Coach “Ricky Bobby” will be leading the way and will probably be the first to run onto the field, trademarked sweatshirt and all, screaming “THAT JUST HAPPENED!”  But I digress…

Based on the fact that I have never seen a team win 5 in a row in this series in my lifetime, AND that the ACC officials have something to protect this year for the Aunt Cindy Conference (The Tiggers’ at-large BCS bid), it’s hard to see Carolina winning this game.  Don’t misunderstand, I get it that it could happen.  After all, Connor Shaw has never lost a game starting in Columbia.  We have the nation’s longest home winning streak for a reason too.  And you bet that Tajh still gets happy feet and makes big mistakes with pressure on him.  And yes, this is only the 2nd real defense he will have faced this year.  

And I think the Gamecocks are probably just sick and tired of hearing about how wonderful their orange neighbors are considering they have done so little to earn the right to say that.  At least we have given two currently ranked teams (#5 Mizzou and #19 Central Florida) their only losses this year, and both on their fields!  Clemson’s signature win?  Barely beating a Georgia team missing ½ their roster and completely focused on playing USC the next week.   Granted, Carolina’s loss at Tennessee was just dreadful.  No question.  And no, Clemson did not lose to any of the high schools they had to play (thanks to an assist from the zebras up in Raleigh but I digress).  

The bottom line is that this game just “feels like” a Clemson win.  Maybe that is just gas from the Mexican food I ate the other night but I don’t think so.  I have the Tigers winning 31-20.  So yes, we will have to put up with a whole bunch of nonsense for one night, but as I have said many times:  If every Clemson QB wants to just get his tail kicked by us for a few years before he sneaks out of town with a win in his senior season, I am okay with that.  

After all, no matter what happens Saturday, Boyd has been one of the best Clemson QB’s to enjoy if you’re a Gamecock fan.  And they lose him and a lot more than we do next season as we’re the youngest team in the nation.  So can you imagine what sort of redneck spectacle the crazy one will perform after the game if they win too?  He may actually sacrifice a live goat and have himself crowned at midfield! “THE GREATEST COACH EVER TO POST A 2-4 RECORD AGAINST CAROLINA!”  You can hear it now.  And he’ll also point out that he was only a couple of losses away from a winning record.  Whatever it is, it will be pure internet gold.   

And if I am wrong, and Clemson actually does lose this game to us despite all of the stars lining up for them…Well, all I can say is that it will be one of the absolute funniest and epic meltdowns in the history of sports.  Yeah, old Ricky Bobby will find out that his smoking hot fan base will be running to Cal Naughton, Jr. in a hurry. 

It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

Friday, November 22, 2013

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 13

 Weekend of November 30, 2013


South Carolina's typical plan is to take a break from the tough SEC schedule by playing a cupcake the week before Clemson.  After seeing this year's SEC schedule, South Carolina decided to take a different approach by scheduling decent a tough non-conference schedule to offset the weak SEC slate.  They were worried after games against the bottom five SEC teams, they might be a tad rusty.  So, they decided to schedule a decent 1-AA team before Clemson comes to class the place up.

But seriously, South Carolina's non-conference schedule should be commended.  Clemson, Coastal, & UCF all have a single loss each while UNC has rebounded to win to four games in a row.  To put it in perspective, UNC's four straight wins are equal to the season win total for five of South Carolina's eight SEC mates.

But all that said, Coastal Carolina could easily be considered the third best athletic program in the state with NCAA Tournament appearances in baseball and basketball and a solid football squad.  Unfortunately, football is the one sport where the difference between the "haves" and "have nots" is quite large and not easily overcome.

I see three things happening this weekend:

  1. South Carolina comes out flat as they look ahead to Saturday night's Missouri game and next week's thumb party
  2. Coastal to come out fired up and have some early success, maybe even an early lead
  3. South Carolina's focus and depth to kick in around 1:30 to take away any potential drama

In the end, Coastal gets a fat paycheck, South Carolina gets some work in, and South Carolina fans do what they do best: pull for other SEC teams.

South Carolina 52
Coastal Carolina 17


Carolina rarely blows anyone out anymore for whatever reason.  There have been some very tight games against the “sure win” teams on the schedule in recent years, but at least we haven’t been losing those games like we used to.  

Enter a brash and loud-talking buch of high scorers from near the Grand Strand and we’re probably looking at more of the same.  Convinced that USC is not taking them seriously (although we are), and doing everything it can to locate bulletin-board material, the Chanticleers will flock into Columbia and caused some very nervous hineys most of the day.  

Coastal is clearly going to score some points and they clearly are going to give them up  as well.  The Gamecocks will survive another one of those uncomfortable afternoons we have come to expect in these games, and hopefully we’ll avoid any major injuries before the Tiggers and their ACC officials come to Columbia.    

South Carolina 35
Coastal 24



In what is my favorite game designation of the year, the Citadel comes to Clemson for Military Appreciation Day.  From the pre-game pageantry to the flyover to the ceremonies to seeing veterans young and old recognized, Military Appreciation Day leaves nary a dry eye in the joint.  On top of that, it is Senior Day for Tajh Boyd and fellow mates Hot Rod, Spencer Shuey, and Cat Man.  You can most likely include Sammy Watkins and Vic Beasley in the group playing their last home game.

Because of all the pomp around the game, Clemson could very well come out tight as they try to force some excitement.  But I think Tajh leads treats this game like he has every other game, which in turns feeds down to the others.

Clemson jumps out to a big lead as Boyd & Watkins only play the first half.  Once the backups come in, Clemson continues to score a few points, but the deficit becomes more of a working margin as the Citadel finds the endzone once or twice.

Ultimately, a good time is had by all.  The vets are honored, the seniors are celebrated, and young Clemson fans add another special memory.

Clemson 54
El Cid 14


The Holy City Growlers will be pawing into the upstate on Saturday, and they will be prepared and ready to put up a fight.  The Crazy one and his trademarked sweatshirt know that thanks to a putrid schedule they are still being propped up for an unearned BCS at-large bid, so style points matter.

El Cid will keep it tight for a bit, but look for Third-person Tajh to exploit the athleticism gap to pull away in the second half.  His favorite doped-up speedster should have a few big plays and the final score will be large enough to keep the orange sheeple in a good mood.  

The ACC officials are there as a final fig leaf to cover up any mistakes that occur, just as they will be in tow in Columbia after Turkey Day. 

Clemson 56
The Citadel 13




Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Cockabooster “negativity” myth

Well the old Cockabooster is getting just ROASTED in the feedback this week because I had the unmitigated TEMERITY to point out that there hasn’t been a 5-game win streak in the Carolina-Clemson rivalry in my lifetime.  And until I actually see one, I will not be picking USC to tame the Tigers after Thanksgiving.  What surprised me most about the comments and emails I have been getting is an almost universal sentiment that I always pick against the Gamecocks. Nonsense.  I just took a look back and found very few times I have picked against South Carolina.  

Oh, but what about Clemson?  “YOU ALWAYS PICK CLEMSON!”  Before Spurrier arrived, well, that’s right.  I did almost always pick Clemson before 2005.  DUH!  Clemson almost always won before 2005.  From 1971-2004 (the years I was alive pre-Spurrier), the rivalry record was 24-9-1.  Clemson had at least 3 separate 4-game winning streaks in that time.

But since Spurrier arrived I haven’t been nearly as negative about our chances with Clemson.  I did pick them in 4 of the first 5 games in the Spurrier era.  In four of those picks I was right.  I missed the winner only in 2009 when we got our current win streak started.  Then I picked us to win both in 2010 and 2011, and we won both.  So at that point, the Head Ball Coach had led us to four victories over the Tigers and I had picked us to win in three of those games!

Enter 2012 and my picking the kittens due to Connor Shaw’s absence.  What else is there to say except I just missed it.  Badly.  I had no idea Dylan Thompson would be able to go up there and get it done.  He did and it was great! 

Now for next week, I reiterate my thoughts that lead me to choose the Klimpletons: 

1 I have never seen a 5-game winning streak in this series.  I will believe one can happen when I see it.

2. Unlike 2009 and 2011, the ACC officials have something they need to protect in this year’s game:  Clemson’s at-large BCS bid.  Clemson was already headed to the ACC title game with no hope of more in 2009.  Nothing to protect.  In 2011, there was nothing there to protect either.  But this year, ESPN and the ACC are desperate to get a 2nd team into the mix.  I can assure you we won’t see a holding call against Clemson and they will be allowed to just maul our receivers.  Get ready for it folks. 

3.  Clemson’s one real strength plays right into our one real weakness (in my opinion).  The middle of our secondary and our young linebackers have been gashed pretty often this year.  Assuming Clemson can keep Sammy off the dope before kickoff, they are going to get some good yardage and big plays.  And points. 

Now I fully acknowledge we have some things in our favor as well:

1.  Connor Shaw is unbeaten as a starter at home.

2.  We are ALWAYS tough to beat in Williams-Brice, especially during this winning streak. 

3.  If Mike Davis is healthy, he could certainly change the game into a ball-control contest that favors us in a big way. 

4.  Dabo Swinney is still the Coach at Clemson.  He’s like Ricky Bobby only not as funny or successful.  You can actually see him saying “I piss excellence” or some other line from Talladega Nights if you think about it.  (Trademark Dabo Swinney, Inc.)  LOL

So yes, you can make a case for both teams.  Frankly, the five-game win streak thing is what I am most hung up on so hopefully I am wrong in my pick.  In the meantime, hopefully some of my fellow Gamecocks will back away from the ledge.  As I’ve said many times, if every Clemson QB wants to get beat up for three seasons just to grab a win as they head out the door, I am good with that. 

It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

Monday, November 18, 2013

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 12 Scoreboard

As we wind down toward the end of the season, The TigerSwag continues to maintain a 9 point advantage.  This past weekend, they tied...AGAIN.  In the Clemson game, they both picked Clemson to beat Georgia Tech and cover the spread.  For their efforts they both received 10 points.  In the South Carolina game, they both picked South Carolina to win and cover the spread against Florida.  USC won, but did not cover the spread so they both only received 3 points.  This made the current score THE TIGERSWAG 114 and THE COCK-A-BOOSTER 105.

Here are this weeks match ups.  As of November 18, there was no spread listed for either game...both should be blowouts for the home teams.  Therefore, we will change the rules a little bit this week.  Hey, if President Obama can change and alter the HEALTH CARE LAW at moment's notice, then why can't we change the rules for a week of Claws vs. Paws? Right?

Here is how this week will go.  If they pick the winner of the game they get 3 points (like normal).  Then, they will give their prediction of the final scores for each game.  Whoever is the closest to picking the final margin (spread) they will receive a 7 point bonus for that game.  We will do this for both games.

We may see The Cock-A-Booster make a serious move, or we may see The TigerSwag begin to pull away!!