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




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