This post continues a week-long series celebrating fandom with EA Sports.
The Gamecocks have produced a number of memorable moments over the course of the past five seasons. 2005 had the wins over Tennessee and Florida, the former including a dramatic finish with Josh Brown's late 49-yard FG to take the lead. 2007 had wins over UGA and a highly ranked Kentucky team. 2008 had a nice win over Ole Miss, as did 2009, which also included a win over Clemson.
My favorite moment as a Gamecocks fan, though, was 2006's win over Clemson. There were a number of elements that made this win memorable. First of all, it was over Clemson. The Tigers are our major rival and our futility against them is well documented. In my first season following the Gamecocks, the Tigers put a damper on what had to that point been a surprisingly good year by beating us 13-9 in Columbia on the strength of a late James Davis touchdown. That game gave me a taste of what this rivalry is all about, as well as how it has far too often gone down. It was the Tigers' fourth straight against us, and Gamecocks fans were really itching to end the winning streak with a win at Death Valley in 2006. We got the victory that day, exorcising a lot of demons.
The losing streak to the Tigers wasn't the only demon we exorcised that day, though. The 2006 season had been one long exercise what it's like to be a Gamecocks fan, with Carolina coming up just short in just about every game it played against a quality opponent. Against Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida, Carolina put in solid performances but never managed to get the season-defining win it was looking for, oftentimes losing in the most agonizing fashion. The Florida game, which came shortly before the matchup with the Tigers, was the most brutal of these games, with Carolina largely outplaying the eventual national champions but having three kicks blocked in a one-point loss, that last the potential game winner in the waning seconds. Against Clemson, though, Carolina finally got the signature win it was looking for, putting a positive end to what had been a difficult season for the Gamecocks.
The moment of long-delayed collective fulfillment--the moment of getting past both the futility of the series against the Tigers and that of our failures in big games in 2006--Gamecocks fans enjoyed with this win was what made it so special.