Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Bowl Games - The Final Picks!



Since we were last together, I have been given quite the anatomical lesson on the thumb. And deservedly so as Spurrier has appeared to take up permanent residence in Dabo's mind, which is quite funny considering the size of Spurrier's ego and Dabo's brain (according to some intelligent internet authors)...

In taking my thumb lesson like a man, I was able to glean a few uses for the thumb that I never knew existed. In fact, here are my Top 5 uses for the thumb - one for each win:
  1. Hailing a Cab in Orlando
  2. Nothing is worse than driving alongside some overzealous momma and her three tired kids while you are trying to get from the mall food court to the Citrus, I mean Capital One, Bowl
  3. Paying for Pizza
  4. It’s almost impossible to take a stack of ones and roll off a few bills to the pizza man without a thumb – just ask Johnny Football. It’s so important to him that he made it his call sign, and now South Carolina fans can too.
  5. Doing the Disco
  6. South Carolina fans have been waiting their entire lives to have something to dance about, and a few wins over Clemson and another Citrus, I mean Capital One, Bowl is enough to get them dancing in the streets
  7. Biting
  8. According to Shakespeare, biting your thumb at someone was the greatest of all insults. Just imagine the way the Clemson players will be treated now that South Carolina fans realize something is worse than the finger...
  9. Peeling an Orange
  10. I hear they are quite plentiful in South Florida this time of year...
Unfortunately, Clowney has not figured out the thumb is also the primary digit used to activate the cruise control...

In all seriousness, South Carolina will spend New Year's Day entertaining some large corn-fed boys from Wisconsin who like to run the ball, then run it some more, then run it again, just for fun. Is South Carolina capable of staying as committed to stopping the run as Wisconsin will be to continue running it? Will the South Carolina players entering the NFL Draft be willing to sacrifice life and limb to take on blocks and attack the ball on every play? Will Spurrier find enough time between rounds of golf to put together a gameplan consisting of more than just screens and rollout passes?

I don't know, and to be honest, no one does. But here are three quick reasons why South Carolina will win:
  1. Wisconsin is in the Big 10
  2. South Carolina has six total bowl victories, five of which are against BCS conference teams. Of those five BCS conference teams, four are from the Big 10. In fact, South Carolina is 4-2 against the Big 10 and 2-10 against all other conferences.
  3. South Carolina is in the SEC
  4. Over the last three seasons, the SEC is 7-2 against the Big 10 in New Year's Day bowl games, including wins by South Carolina each of the last two years.
  5. Connor Shaw
  6. All Connor Shaw does is win, which is something this Clemson man can acknowledge and respect. I would expect the same from him against a team that gave up 30+ points in each of their three losses.
But as Shakespeare will tell you, every good story needs a good villain. Here are three reasons why Wisconsin will win:
  1. Wisconsin Runs the Ball
  2. Wisconsin set a new team record for rushing yards this season under new coach Gary Anderson, which is pretty remarkable considering their previous talent at running back, including guys like Ron Dayne and Anthony Davis.
  3. Lack of Motivation
  4. To be honest, South Carolina deserves better than this game. They deserve to be playing in a BCS game. But they didn't get one, and you have to wonder how they respond. Add in Spurrier Jr. shopping for a new job and multiple players trying not to get hurt in advance of the NFL Combine and Draft, and you wonder will South Carolina be ready to play.
  5. Spurrier Tired from Watching Duke the Night Before
  6. There's something about your first love that never leaves you, and for Spurrier, that love is Duke. Plus, we couldn't think of another legitimate reason South Carolina should lose.
What actually happens: South Carolina struggles out of the gate, but so does Wisconsin. The teams are even at the half, but South Carolina makes a few plays late to pull it out.

South Carolina 27
Wisconsin 23 


Unlike the Klimpletons, the Gamecocks will be facing an opponent who is HIGHLY motivated, ready to play well, and wanting to be at their bowl game. Meanwhile Carolina comes to Orlando with just a pinch of "been there, done that" on their minds. Add in that they pulverized the Tigers for the 5th straight year and you can see why we'll be a bit flat at kickoff.

The Badgers are well-coached and have a strong running game. No one questions that. Will they be able to take advantage of the early lackluster look for the Gamecocks and build a lead? Because if Carolina can get ahead and force Wisconsin off their game plan it will be all over.

Every instinct I have points to picking the Big 10 rodents, and I wouldn't be "stunned" if we lose. They are favored by a point so Vegas agrees with that. But for fun I will cut against the gran and cut against my gut feeling. Gamecocks win pulling away late.

USC 31
Wisconsin 20



In our last interaction, I gave five keys for Clemson to end the streak against South Carolina. Paramount of those keys: turnovers. By the time South Carolina fans finally figured out how to count to five, Clemson gave them an advanced math problem by giving the ball away six times. The embarrassment was so much it sent this Clemson man into a month of depression. A depression so deep only some time with family and a BCS bowl could overcome it.

With that embarrassment in the past, it's time to focus on the task at hand: Ohio State. With a win, Clemson has a chance at back-to-back 11 win seasons and their first ever official BCS Bowl win. Additionally, it would help validate the season for many Clemson faithful and the Orange Bowl in selecting the Tigers.

Here are three reasons why Clemson will beat Ohio State:

  1. Matchups
  2. Where Clemson excels, Ohio State struggles. Where Clemson is comfortable, Ohio State is uncomfortable. Where Clemson is confident, Ohio State is nervous. Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant should find plenty of open space in Ohio State's porous secondary. Add to that Ohio State leaving Noah Spence in Columbus and the loss of two other key defensive players and it could spell points aplenty for the Tigers.
  3. See Williams, Andre and Davis, Mike
  4. While Braxton Miller can make plays in the passing game, both he and Carlos Hyde make their hay on the ground. Ohio State's last four games has seen both Miller and Hyde cross the 100 yard mark, something only three players have done all season against Clemson. And each of those three games featured one thing: a 65+ yard touchdown run. Conversely, the ACC and SEC rushing leaders combined for 92 yards on 39 carries.
  5. Ohio State's Motivation
  6. Let's be honest, the Orange Bowl is a bigger deal for Clemson than it is for Ohio State. Heading into Ohio State's last game, they had visions of the BCS National Championship game while Clemson was hoping to back into this game. In the end, Clemson got its wish while Ohio State had to settle. Whether or not Ohio State can shake that feeling will be a big determining factor Friday night.
But like any Clemson game, it can't be without some drama. Here are three reasons Ohio State will walk out of Miami with a win.

  1. See Shaw, Connor and Winston, Jameis
  2. A history of Clemson will tell you many things. Unfortunately, one of them is Clemson's propensity to struggle against teams with a running quarterback. My first recollection of this was Charlie Ward, though I'm sure it goes back further. Ohio State's Braxton Miller may the best running quarterback Clemson has faced since Michael Vick's day at Va Tech.
  3. Experience
  4. The list of teams with the most BCS berth's does not start with an SEC team, but with Ohio State (in fact, the top 4 teams with the most BCS appearances are not SEC teams). The Orange Bowl will be their 10th BCS game and will make them only the second school to have played in every BCS bowl, and a win would make them the only school to win every BCS bowl at least once. Needless to say, Ohio State won't be nervous...
  5. Ohio State's Motivation
  6. There is a legitimate concern that Ohio State may not be motivated for this game; however, there is also a legitimate expectation that an Urban Meyer led team will be ready to play, regardless of the situation. Ohio State can validate their season and get their first win in Florida since the 1985 Citrus Bowl.
What actually happens: Clemson and Ohio State take their first few drives to get reacclimated to high level football before the defensive sieves are exposed. By halftime, the offenses are getting warmed up. The teams stay close through the second half until the Ohio State ground game begins to wear the Tigers down. In the end Ohio State walks out with a slim, well earned victory.

Ohio State 34
Clemson 30


Motivation matters more than anything else in most bowl games.  So may examples are there to back that up like Utah against Alabama, UConn vs. the Gamecocks and last year's Clemson-LSU game.  Serendipity has landed on the Tigers again, as they are desperately hungry to get a win as quickly as possible to forget about another loss to USC.  Helping that cause is the fact that Ohio State is deflated, disappointed, and disinterested in the matchup since they were expecting to be in Pasadena.

Ohio State is a better team than Clemson.  No question.  But this is not a contest to pick who the better team is, only find out who the winning team will be.  When you put that factor into the equation it makes for interesting theater.

Both teams expect to score points and I am sure they will.  But look at Ohio State's record over the years in bowl games against teams from the Palmetto State (0-2 vs. USC and 0-1 against Clemson) and you get the feeling this one ends with some happy cousin-kissers from Pickens County.

The Tigers need it more, want it more, and they aren't gacing that much of a fight from the Buckeyes.  Go with the Tiggers.

Clemson 33
Ohio State 24




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Bowl Games

This is the final CLAWS vs. PAWS for the 2013-2014 season.  Currently, The TigerSwag holds a 9 point advantage over The Cock-A-Booster. 

Here are the bowl games and the current point spreads (12/18/13)...

The state of the Gamecocks: Dadgum Good!

There seem to be some folks out there who just can’t understand why Carolina fans are perfectly happy with the program right now. After all, we lost at Tennessee this year right? All I can say to those folks who want to believe that is that they must not understand our history. This especially holds true for our friends in Orange from the Upstate. I have actually been surprised at how many are almost obsessed with proving that we shouldn’t be content.

That is strange because history is the only thing I hear coming from their mouths when I want to discuss the win streak we have over the Tigers. They cling to history like a baby kangaroo on the pouch nipple. But history is supposed to be COMPLETELY ignored by USC fans? Okay. Whatever makes you feel better.

So I will play along a bit and say this: Yes, this is by far the worst 32-5 streak I have ever lived through as a Carolina fan! It’s just been a nightmare! See how stupid it looks when you actually type it out? Following the 2008 season, we had managed to land all of 2 nine or more win seasons in our history. 2!

Add in that from 1976-2008, we had gone 8-24-1 against Clemson and were hardly an afterthought in the SEC East. Not good. Since then we have landed an SEC East title, have gone 5-0 against the Tiggers, and have more wins against the SEC than we have ever seen. Also, we have had 4 straight seasons of nine or more wins, including 41 wins. Three of those seasons grabbed at least 10 victories with 2 of them at 11. A win in the Citrus Bowl would mean three straight 11-win campaigns as well.

That’s the past and present, so what about the future? We are losing all of 8 names off the roster and 7 scholarship players counting the juniors leaving early. 8. We have a much more manageable schedule as well in 2014. Yes, we have road trips to Fla-duh and Auburn but you don’t play in the SEC without at least a tough road game or 2. This ain’t the ACC after all. And the good news is that our other 3 road games are against Vandy, UK and the Upstate Udders.

If there is one lingering doubt I have, and it’s not a big one, it’s whether or not we will be “fired up” enough for the upcoming bowl game. I think we will, but I am always preaching about how important motivation is for these contests. Are we the better team? Yes. But we were also the better team than UConn in Birmingham. As I always say I don’t care if the best team wins. I want my team to win. So fans of other schools, please continue to spend whatever energy you like poking holes in our results. Especially my friends in O-range. I will continue to just chuckle and stare at you like a zoo exhibit. I waited a long time and sat through a whole lot of bad football to have a program like this one. Bring on those old Badgers in Orlando!

It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Clemson fans hate it that Connor Shaw is right

In response to getting double-digit pistol-whipped by the Gamecocks for the fifth year in a row, many Clemson fans are hoping their Orange Bowl bid will help soothe the annual hiney-burn they are now used to receiving from Carolina.  And you bet I can remember many times back when we used to lose to them all the time doing something similar.  I would just want to find anything at all to avoid the reality of losing to them year after year.  

Enter the press conference for this year’s Citrus/Capital One Bowl in Orlando.  Steve Spurrier and Connor Shaw were there taking questions about the matchup with Wisconsin and Shaw was asked if he was upset that Carolina had beaten teams in two of the BCS games (Central Florida and the Klimpletons) but weren’t going themselves?  Shaw’s response was just perfect and so true.  He said he would rather be in the Gamecocks situation:  a team that had beaten 2 BCS teams while not playing in one of those bowls…instead of the reverse. He’s right.  My Clemson friends may stick their heads in the sand and pretend he’s wrong but deep down, below the garnet burn, they know they would gladly trade in that Orange Bowl bid for a win over us.  

But aside from my friends of Orange ilk, you may wonder why I’m so happy with “only” getting another Citrus Bowl bid.  Well, there are several reasons. First, I felt like we gave up the right to expect more when we vomited all over the field in Knoxville.  Second, considering we only have 5 seniors on the roster and only 8 names are leaving Columbia period this season, 10-2 and ranked #8 is fine with me.  Finally, there was that old win #5 in a row (31-17 over the Trademarked Tigers in case you forgot).  So yep, count the old Cockabooster as being quite content with things.  Meanwhile, as our rivals head to Miami in the disappointment/denial bowl, they will keep on pretending they don’t care about the rivalry anymore.  And while they are doing that, Shaw’s comment will be eating away at their insides the whole time.  Can you imagine how happy they are he is graduating?  

Now in terms of the matchups themselves, the Tiggers appear to have fallen rear end-backwards into another fortunate game similar to their Peach Bowl wins over LSU and Tennessee.  Ohio State, like the Bayou Bengals and UT, has absolutely no incentive or interest in this game.  Think of how Alabama felt about playing Utah a few years back in the Sugar.  And to their credit, Clemson does seem to take advantage of opponent’s disinterest.  They likely will again.  After all, as Mark May points out, Clemson wilts when a physical team hits them in the mouth, but Ohio State ain’t that kind of squad.

And of course the opposite is true for the Gamecocks.  We will be facing a hungry team with tons of incentive and much to prove.  Wisconsin is well-coached, has a salty defense and a strong running game.  At first glance, I think of the Iowa team we faced in the Outback Bowl a few years back.  We will have to play at a high level for 60 minutes against a focused opponent to land another bowl win.  So yes, it isn’t what we hoped for this year, and the bowls may not go our way.  But just like my main man Connor Shaw was saying, we’d still rather have #5 in a row.  And so would the Tigers!     

It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!

Monday, December 2, 2013

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 14 Scoreboard

Both The Cock-A-Booster and The TigerSwag took the points and picked Clemson to win as a road dog.  As a result they both received 2 points (a safety for each) since they both did not pick the winner.

We will have one more CLAWS vs. PAWS for the forthcoming bowl games.  Stay tuned!

The TigerSwag continues to maintain his 9 point lead.

The Highlights!


"FIVE" Cover - Compliments of our friends at SPURS AND FEATHERS!

The Cockabooster’s FIVE favorite things about the 31-17 victory over the Tigers on Saturday:

The Cockabooster’s FIVE favorite things about the 31-17 victory over the Tigers on Saturday:
5.       My 69-year old sweet Mother has as many touchdowns against South Carolina as “all-world, all-everything” Sammy Watkins (Dabo should buy Sammy a trip to the Gamecock End Zone as a Christmas present so he can say he’s been there!)

4.       Spurrier giving Dabo the Heisman and quickly scooting past him after the game to avoid getting that “trademark” French-kiss in the ear by the Crazy One in the K-Mart Sweatshirt (Trademarked, Dabo Ricky Bobby Swinney Inc.)  Although I feel bad for Connor Shaw because Dabbles latched onto him instead which had to be awful.  That was the first person from Clemson who actually put uncomfortable pressure on Shaw all night. 

3.       My 7-year old looking at me after the game and saying, “Daddy, we always beat Clemson.”  I thought about it and shoot, he is 6-2 against the Tigers in his lifetime and honestly feels that way.  So innocent and young!    Heck I hope he never loses that. 

2.       Dabo’s tortured post-game press conference.  As always he finds ways to praise himself and deflect blame.  It’s like a 1-man verbal exhibition of a manatee and an aardvark trying to mate.  Here’s to another six years of that lunatic running things in Pickens County! 

1.       Tajh Boyd’s last pass ever against the Gamecocks….another interception! 

MOO U News: Top 10 Excuses Given by Tiger Fans to explain Loss #5 in a row to the Gamecocks

10.          Dabo was too busy trying to Baptize Sammy Watkins in the second half.
9.            Will Merritt ate 27.4% of Chad Morrris’s offense on the bus ride over to the game.
8.            Those ACC refs were out to get Clemson!
7.            Nobody told Brent Venables about that new-fangled QB Draw trick.
6.            Tajh Boyd was jealous of the Clemson punt returner for stealing his “choke against Carolina” thunder. 
5.            Gamecock student section taunting hurt their feelings!
4.            Clemson cheerleaders had to cover their hooves due to the cold.
3.            No one at Clemson could spell the lyrics to “Sandstorm”
2.            There were no spittoons in the visitor sections!

MOO U News: Chad Morris says he came back to lose one more Orange Bowl!

Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris says he is extremely pleased he decided to stay one more year   “Yeah, I could have gone to somewhere like Auburn last year, but you just can’t win there in your first season so why take on that train wreck?  My friend Gus Malzhan will probably never even beat Alabama, much less play for the SEC Title.  So it was either do something like that or come back and be an assistant for another season under the nuttiest fruit loop in all of College Football.  I stand by my choice.”  

in Tigertown before becoming a head coach, and that losing another Orange Bowl in embarrassing fashion after being humiliated by South Carolina is the perfect way to boost his resume.

When asked if he planned to waste another year rotting away in Clemson, Morris spit out his coffee and fell backwards in his chair laughing. 

MOO U News: Dabo to USC: “How dare your students not enjoy our taunting!”

Clemson’s head football coach says he didn’t appreciate the way his players and coaches were treated by the USC student section as they were leaving at halftime and following the game on Saturday night.  He says he can’t understand why Clemson’s long-standing tradition of lining up in a row, arm-in-arm followed by his players trash-talking the Carolina students wasn’t respected and appreciated.  

“They really should just sit there and take our trash talk and not react at all,” said Swinney, who feels that his players were put in harm’s way as a result.  “I mean, if you’re going to tell me that somehow we’re responsible because they don’t know we show our rear ends like that before every game, then that is sad.” 
Dabo went on to say that if USC fans aren’t careful, then they may be subjected to some rude treatment or taunting when they come to Clemson in the future.  “As far as I know, not a single Clemson student has ever said an unkind word to a Gamecock player or fan up at Death Valley, but I guess that may change.  If we can’t pick a fight with USC students without them fighting back, then I am sad for the sport itself.”    

MOO U News: Gamecocks plan to retire Tajh Boyd’s Jersey

Carolina fans were sad to see the Tajh Boyd era at Clemson end on Saturday night, and after the Gamecocks put yet another double-digit whipping on the Tigers, they feel Boyd’s contributions to USC football must be enshrined forever.  Boyd’s #10 will be retired before Carolina’s opener against Texas A & M in 2014.  Steve Spurrier says the recognition was a long-time coming.  “Yeah, Tajh always seemed to make just the right mistake at the right time for us and we appreciate that.  His fumble and two interceptions tonight as a Senior was just fantastic.” 

Gamecock fans will also be making an appeal to the NCAA to give Boyd an extra season of eligibility at Clemson, although Spurrier acknowledges that effort will likely fail.  “We know it’s a long-shot but him being under center up there gives us the best chance to win, so we’ll see what happens.” 

Spurrier is right: Shaw is the best

There will be no SEC Championship for Connor Shaw as a starter.  There will be no BCS bowl bid for him either.  He did not lead the Gamecocks even to an SEC East Championship.  So why is it so clear that this quiet, unassuming guy will go down as the greatest player to ever start at quarterback for the University of South Carolina?  

First let’s look at his competition for that title.  How about Tommy Suggs? Suggs led the Gamecocks to our only conference championship, he was 4-0 against Clemson as a starter (3 with the varsity as in those days there was a “freshman” game), and his name was all over the record books when he left town.  

Some folks will also make a case for Jeff Grantz.  My Mother would be one of them that strongly feel Grantz should be in the discussion and I understand that.  Grantz is a hero for his 56-20 win over Clemson in 1975 and he was fantastic at putting points on the board despite his teams having no defense.  

How about Steve Taneyhill, who was the honorary game-starter on Saturday night?  Taneyhill turned the state upside down with his confidence, swagger and knack for inspiring his teams.  Add in two memorable wins in Death Valley when they were needed the most, numerous passing records, and USC’s first ever bowl win and you have a great candidate as well.  

With all due respect to these three (and any others you want to toss out), Shaw is #1 in my opinion.  Before anyone hops up and down demanding a definition, I am not talking about passing yards, TD passes, etc.  I am talking about the broader question of “overall” best QB.  Here are my arguments for why I field the Bald Baron is the best of all-time:  

  • As a starter, Shaw has led USC to an overall record of 26-5, including a 17-0 mark in home games. 
  • He is the winningest (if that’s a word) starting QB in Carolina history. 
  • Shaw has thrown for 5762 yards in his career, including 53 touchdowns against only 16 interceptions.  For his senior season those numbers are 21 and 1 each with 1 game still to go. 
  • He is 2-0 as a starter in bowl games, including the Gamecocks biggest bowl win ever.
  • He is 3-0 as a starter against Clemson.
  • He has rushed for over 1600 yards in his career in Columbia and added 16 rushing touchdowns.
So you can isolate a stat or two and point out that other signal-callers have better numbers, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has excelled at so many different aspects of the game as #14.  The fact that he asks for absolutely zero recognition for it in the age of social media and prima donnas only bolsters his case as far as I am concerned.   So mark down the Cockabooster as agreeing with the Head Ball Coach about Shaw:  he’s the best ever.  Period.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!