Week 6 is here, and with it a spike in our fanbase's blood pressure. Neither the ODS win nor real life win over Kentucky was completely satisfying. Georgia looms, as do LSU and Florida. We wait with baited breath to see what the upcoming weeks in both USC seasons hold (perhaps—PERHAPS—with a bit more focus falling on the real thing.) But as usual, we first look back at last week's action:
ODS GOT IT RIGHT: Connor Shaw continues to tightly mimic his digital avatar. Over his last two games, IRL Connor has a .897 completion percentage (35-39.) In ODS, it's .868 (33-38.)
ODS GOT IT WRONG: In ODS, Damario Jeffery won the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Alas, Damario was shaky when visible IRL, getting flagged for a questionable facemask and then failing to fall on a fumble at the end of the second quarter. (He recovered a fumble in ODS, by the way.)
RIGHT: Devin and Devonte's impressive ODS performances were mirrored by standout games in Lexington.
WRONG: Kentucky never led in the ODS game, which, obviously, was not the case in real life. However, the DigiCocks did hold the Cats scoreless in the second half in both games.
RIGHT: YATES SHAMING. When the Cocks went for it on 4th and 10 in UK territory, ESPN kept cutting to Adam Yates on the sideline, as if to say "The coaches have no faith in this poor kicker!" ODS took that to another level, illustrating DigiSpurrier's desire to relish in DigiYates' struggles. Why else would they trot him out for a pair of 55+ yard field goals?
WRONG: Georgia didn't lose to Tennessee nor did TAMU lose to Arkansas, both of which were predicted by ODS.
A PSA before we continue: lest you think I'm not self-aware, let me make it clear that Our Digital Season is a flawed metric. And not just for the obvious reason that it's, you know, a video game.
Early on, I made the decision that I'd let this thing chart its own course. It would be a full season, without accounting for real life injuries/attrition once the first game kicked off. It was a decision that valued entertainment over realism. Sure, we could have a more accurate simulation if each week if I set realistic depth charts and adjusted player attributes based on performance. But that approach dismisses latent purpose of ODS, which lies in the final third of that abbreviation: season. This is supposed to be a parallel universe that awes us in its overlaps but truly thrives entertainment-wise when it comically strays from reality. (Besides, if you're reading about a digital football simulation to draw Valuable Football Conclusions, then I don't know what to tell you.)
All this is to excuse the fact that five weeks in, DigiGeorgia is riddled with injuries and has suffered 2 SEC losses. HOW WACKY! Indeed, the awkwardly portmanteau'd "Gur-Shall" tandem, burning up real defenses, has seen little to no digital playing time. The DigiCocks are heavily favored in this game. So abandon real life context and, like Homer Simpson crossing into the 3rd dimension, bask in the computerized glory of this week's Our Digital Season.
It's a beautiful afternoon at DigiBrice. DigiCBS felt we were worthy of Game of the Week honors, so we'll have a mid-afternoon kickoff. The Cocks win the toss and, you guessed it, will elect to kick.
FIRST QUARTER or HEY FLORIDA KNOCK IT OFF
Opening kickoff brought out to the 21. Georgia comes out flat, and it's 3 downs and out. The punt is boomed, and it'll roll into the endzone for a touchback.
The Cocks are putting together an impressive drive, with our standard dink-and-dunk* attack reaching midfield before we're stuffed on 3rd and 1. Gunning for early momentum, DigiSpurrier opts to go for it on 4th. It's a give to Lattimore, and Georgia envelops him—but wait! Offsides is called and the 5 yards results in a first. Alas, they Cocks go negative 4 on the next three plays, and Hull will punt. What's worse, he shanks it. Only a 19 yard punt, and UGA will take over on their own 30.
*copyright Kirk Herbstreit
Update: Florida's up on LSU, 20-3 in the late 2nd quarter. An upset would not be in USC's interest, as the DigiGators are currently without an SEC (or any) loss.
Again, the DigiDawgs can't get anything going and will punt. Ace Sanders returns the punt for 8 yards, and USC will start on their own 38. Might this have the makings of a defensive showdown? Perhaps—but the DigiCocks are trying to get something going. Shaw scrambles for consecutive runs of 17 and 14. After one more first down, it's 4th and 3 stall-out in the red zone. Adam Yates is called on for a 36 yard field goal attempt. The kick is up and good; it's 3-0 Gamecocks.
UGA's offense has been ugly thus far, and it only gets uglier on this drive. Three consecutive tackles for loss, including two sacks and a fumble (which the DigiDawgs recover) will force UGA to punt from the back of the endzone on 4th and 31. The punt is short, and Ace returns it to the 33.
LSU now trails Florida by 10 late in the 3rd. Wasn't it just in the 2nd? Apparently the time-space continuum is experiencing some technical difficulties.
Shaw then goes over the middle to DL Moore, who gains 16 before he's dragged down. Jump to 3rd and 6. It's a draw to Latty, and UGA's D bought it, thus allowing 5 yards and the first. (LSU's within 3 now! Let's geaux DigiTigers!) It's now 1st and goal on the 4. Shaw drops back, and sees Ace wide open in the middle of the end zone, but throws it about 4 yards over his head. DigiSpurrier is furious, sparks popping out of his ears. Wide pitch to Latty gets swallowed up because, repeat after me, "NCAA 13 Hates Wide Pitches". That's how the 1st quarter will end—we go to the 2nd with USC up 3-0 and knocking on the door.
SECOND QUARTER, or, I DON'T THINK THAT IS A RECORD, NCAA 13. NEITHER IS THAT
Shaw drops back and hits Ace on a short cross route for the touchdown. Easy as that. It's 10-0 Gamecocks.
Kick returned to the 21. Ken Malcome runs for two (Again, the Gur-shall doesn't factor largely into the DigiDawgs' offense, what can I tell you.) Murray completes one for 15. Play action on first, and Murray gets PLASTERED by Jadeveon Clowney shortly after airing out a pass. It's incomplete, good coverage by Auguste. They'll run the option to the far side, and Murray is felled before he can pitch for a loss of 4. It's 3rd and long. Aaron Murray finds TE Arthur Lynch downfield for first down yardage. But DigiSwearinger clocks him, and the ball comes loose. Shaq Wilson scoops it up, and is immediately pushed out of bounds. It's USC ball at their own 33.
The handoff to Lattimore, and he streaks up the middle for 9. Shaw drops back and checks down to Lattimore, good for a gain of 8. DigiRicht is pacing the sideline, his seat growing warmer with every first down. An HB sweep results in a one-yard loss. It's 3rd and 3 at the Georgia 49. Direct snap to DigiBruuuuuuuuce. It's a keeper, and he guns forward for the first. On 1st and 10, Shaw drops back, and he has a man! It's DL Moore on the go route, and he's got separation. He'll reel it in for 6. It's now 17-0 Gamecocks with under 7 in the half.
The DigiDawgs are in a big hole, but it would seem their offense is thawing. A few hearty completions, and they're now in USC territory. But the defense tightens up, and UGA will call on the field goal unit. It's up and good from 45 yards. 17-3, Gamecocks.
Kickoff is downed for a touchback. After a short Lattimore run and a nearly-picked incompletion, it's 3rd and 7. The Cocks will split out 5 wide. Shaw drops back, and he's going to put his whole arm into this one. It's DigiShaq Roland, 5 steps ahead of his DB, who makes the catch in stride and hauls it in for a 72 yard strike! It's now 24-3 with under 5 left in the second.
On first down following a touchback, Taylor and Clowney combine for the sackwich on 1st. But on the next play, Murray hits Lynch down a seam for a gain of 36. Despite the score, Murray's putting up a lot of yards, nearing 200.
Rece Davis informs us that LSU has just taken the lead on Florida in the 4th quarter. 24-23...we'll keep you updated!
Jump to 2nd and 10 on the USC 29. Pass complete for 9, and it's 3rd and the length of the football. They'll get enough on the handoff, and it's 1st and 10 in the redzone. Georgia calls the pitch, and Malcome is tackled for a 2 yard loss. Incomplete on 2nd, and it's 3rd and 12. Murray is clobbered as he throws it, resulting in a high-arching wobbler floating in the general direction of the end zone. But Marlon Brown's in the right place at the right time. Catch made, and flukey or not, it counts: 24-10, South Carolina.
First and 10 from the 25, and Shaw drops and again airs one out—and holy smokes, this time it's to Ace Sanders! It's a 75 yard touchdown pass, his fourth of the day.
For some reason, the game says that was an NCAA record for longest touchdown pass. That's...not even close. Anyway, Connor Shaw is up to 246 yards and 4 TDs. And it's not even halftime. 31-10, USC.
This is a battle of gunslingers—Murray now has his 200 yards after another completion to Arthur Lynch. But the next pass doesn't go so well—it's intercepted by Holloman, who gets a helpful block from Swearinger and runs it in for his second pick six of the season! It's 38-10, USC. Georgia's wheels are falling off, both in this game and in Their Digital Season in general.
Georgia will try again from its own 20, and—what the hell is going on? 80 yard touchdown pass to Michael Bennett. And yes, it says Murray breaks the fake record that Shaw just set. 38-17, Cocks.
The DigiCocks scrape together a few first downs, but ultimately the scorefest ends for the Gamecocks and Hull will punt. It's a solid boot, and there's a flag too. Holding on the receiving team—Georgia will back up to its own 19. But they have 3 timeouts, and will no doubt try to get something going.
Pass complete for 10 on 1st. Georgia will take a timeout. Murray hits Lynch for 7, but he's taken down immediately and they'll use another timeout. Then, of course, Murray luanches one and it's caught by Brown at the 10 yard line. 1st and 10. Pass is complete. Georgia scrambles as time ticks. But they can't gather fast enough, and have to call timeout. They'll kick a field goal, and it's now 38-20. Lots of fight in this DigiDawg team. The kickoff will result in the final play of the half.
You want stats? We got stats:
FIRST HALF STATS:
Shaw: 11-15, 256 yds, 4 TD, 10 rushes, 54 yards
Lattimore: 10 rushes, 29 yards
Sanders: 4 rec, 108 yards, 2 TD
D. Holloman: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD
THIRD QUARTER, or, YATES DOING WORK
First down on the 24, and Latty only gets 2 on the give. It's been tough sledding for Marcus, who usually has little trouble with the Dawgs. Sanders, crossing over the middle, takes it for 12. The same play follows, resulting in a gain of 15. Shaw scrambles for 12 more and the first. After an incompletion and a sack, it's 3rd and 21. But Shaw coolly connects with Sanders on the post route for 24! Shaw's up over 300 yards now. But ultimately they'll run out of steam, and Yates is called on for a 48 yard attempt. Does he have the leg? Yes. It's 41-20, USC.
It's official, folks. Florida has tacked on a late score and upset LSU, 31-24. Well, at least our ranking will improve if we hang on here.
Aaron Murray is looking for points, lots of them, and fast. But Jadeveon Clowney smells blood, and ambushes Murray in a way that looked very similar to his first career sack against UGA last year.
Jump to 3rd and 14, and...really? Murray launches an 81 yard touchdown. And yes, the record thing popped up, announcing he just broke his own record that he set in the last quarter, the one that broke the record Shaw set only a few plays prior to that, which was a bogus record in the first place. Whatever; it's 41-27, USC—a two score game. UGA is on a 17-3 run since late in the 2nd quarter.
The Cocks push into Georgia territory, and DigiSpurrier dials up a bomb. But Shaw underthrows it, and it's picked! All of a sudden, Georgia is one more record-setting strike away from this being a one score game. But the defense forces a much-needed 3 and out. The punt team is on, and it's not pretty—only a 20 yard net. The Cocks will have it at midfield.
Shaw hits Sanders on 1st down, good for 14. It's been a career day for DigiAce. Shaw then breaks off a beauitful run, slipping past one tackler and then knocking over a second. The ball is on the UGA 20. Shaw scrambles again for 12 more, making it 1st and goal on the 8 yard line. Handoff to Lattimore is good for 4 yards. 2nd down, and it's an option—Shaw can't get rid of it, and it's a loss of 5. On 3rd and goal on the 9, a halfback screen only gains a yard, so the Cocks will kick. Yates is on—and it's good. 44-27, Gamecocks, and it's once again a 3 score game.
The Dawgs drive will start on their own 24 with 2:20 left in the 3rd. Georgia moves into DigiCock territory, but losses on 2nd and 3rd down will force a punt. Georgia will try to pin the DigiCocks deep, but it goes through the endzone. Ugly punting day for the Dawgs.
The Cocks come out 5 wide, and Shaw draws a man offsides! It's the recipe for a bomb, but Shaw gets sacked. Oh well—still 1st and 5. It's a give to Latty for good yardage, but there's another flag. This time it's a hold on Justice Cunningham. We'll try 1st down again. Cunningham atones, hauling in a pass for 10. On 2nd and 2, Shaw hits Smith in the flat on a bubble screen, but Georgia read it. He's tackled for a loss and it's 3rd and 4. Undeterred, Shaw hits DL Moore over the middle for a gain of 10 and a 1st down. That's how the 3rd quarter will end.
FOURTH QUARTER, or, DO I HEAR 60
We'll switch sides and see if Georgia can overcome a 17 point deficit. Jump to 3rd and 4. Shaw drops back and, just like on the last 3rd and 4, hits DL Moore for the first. The Cocks are putting together a nice drive here, but they're only at midfield. Handoff to Lattimore good for 3. A sweep to DL Moore is good for 3 more, and it's—huh—3rd and 4 again. So of course, we pitch it for a loss. Why with the pitching. Hull on to punt, and he comes oh-so-close to a successful coffin kick, but instead it's a touchback.
1st and 10 from the 20, and Murray hits ol' reliable, Arthur Lynch, who is up over 100 yards now. Murray throws to the flat and Akeem Auguste leaps in front of the pass! He'll streak to the end zone, and that might have iced it, folks. It's 51-27, Cocks. The lead is 24.
Murray continues to rack up yards, but again his attack is cut down by an interception. It's Vic Hampton who pulls it in this time. This is almost hard to watch, since, realistically, the likelihood of a rout of this kind is slim to none.
Draw to Lattimore and he takes it for 18 yards, which may be enough to get his average up over 2! A few handoffs later and it's 1st and goal from the inch line, so of course we call an option out of the shotgun, resulting in a loss. Then a direct snap to Bruce, and he's downed for a loss. Back to back losses on idiot playcalls in a goal line situation? Maybe the game is hyper-realistic after all. 3rd and goal and oh joy another option and another loss. Yates will kick, and it's 54-27 Cocks. That's double, folks. We can dream.
Kickoff is returned to the 24 with just over 5 minutes remaining. Murray will not give up, hitting Brown for another immense touchdown. 54-34, Cocks. Aaron Murray just set the school record with 574 passing yards this game. UGA will try an onside kick, but it's recovered by USC.
Instead of rattling off some boring clock-milking plays, let's jump ahead to 3rd and 10 on the Georgia 45. DigiShaw sees Georgia's secondary cheating up, and he makes them pay, hitting DL Moore for a 40 yard strike! It's now 61-34, Cocks.
Georgia goes 3 and out on a desperation drive, and will wave the white flag. They punt it away. Carolina runs the remaining minute off the clock and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how this one ends.
Final Score: South Carolina 61, Georgia 34.*
C. Shaw: 21-27, 390 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT, 20 rushes, 87 yards, Player of the Game
M. Lattimore: 28 rushes, 115 yards, 3 receptions, 8 yards.
D. Moore: 6 rec., 122 yards, 2 TD
A. Sanders: 8 rec., 172 yards, 2 TD
WEEKLY HONORS: NONE. Somehow this game thinks James Franklin's 217 yards and 5 total TD are better than either Connor or Aaron Murray's line. Psh.
DigiSEC EAST ROUNDUP:
In the East, It's still South Carolina and Florida as the undefeateds. UF with a huge win over DigiLSU. Georgia falls to 1-3 and is virtually out of the running.
LSU's loss is a dagger, but a win over Bama could save the day. That is, if they beat us next week.
AROUND THE DigiNCAA:
SCORES OF NOTE:
Florida 31 - LSU 24
Auburn 24 - Arkansas 21
Pittsburgh 34 - Syracuse 14: This game has Pitt at 5-0 and ranked in the top 15.
Unlike their real-life counterparts, the DigiDawgs continue their letdown season. South Carolina improves to 6-0 and is now up to the #4 team in the nation. They'll face an angry LSU squad in Baton Rouge. This might not be pretty.