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So far, Our Digital Season is 6 for 6. Our season-long EA Sports simulation continues. Will the DigiCocks do the unthinkable and steal a win in that deadliest of Death Valleys?
We're running a full simulation of the 2012 college football season on EA Sports NCAA College Football 2013. How will our digital season compare to the real thing? Follow along all season and find out!
Once again, Our Digital Season remains in lockstep with the real season, with the Cocks both Digi- and actual having trounced an overmatched Georgia team. Let's see how the simulation did last week:
ODS GOT IT RIGHT: "Aw, GCNB, why you spend so much time doing this? It's just a video game!" Guess what, naysayers? Last week's ODS sim missed the margin of victory by ONE POINT YEEEEEEAAAAAH! [cranks The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now" from chunky ghettoblaster, holds aloft] All the haters can stare right into my shiny crystal balls and tell me what they see, 'cause ODS is the Dionne Warwick of Digital Football Dominance! Boomshackalacka! [does this for 14 minutes.]
Ahem. But yeah. One point.
ODS GOT IT WRONG: The actual score was a bit south of the 61-34 that ODS predicted. But still HOW BOUT THAT MARGIN OF VICTORY SON? [this for 20 more minutes]
RIGHT: In both games, Marcus Lattimore had a modest but effective day. IRL: 24/109/1 TD. ODS: 28/115/0 TD.
WRONG: Shaw obviously did just what he had to do IRL, but his ODS numbers were simply bombastic in comparison to the solid and efficient display in the real game.
RIGHT: Called the Holloman pick. Devonte laid out for the early pick in Saturday's game, and brought in a pick six in the 2nd quarter of the ODS contest.
WRONG: Ace had a super game in both editions, but his huge receiving performance in ODS wasn't the case IRL, where Ace did his damage on special teams.
RIGHT: In ODS, Georgia's GurShall tandem wasn't a factor because the game didn't have either in the two deep. Guess what? THEY WEREN'T A FACTOR IRL EITHER [YOU ALREADY KNOW]
WRONG: After week 6, ODS actually underestimated the IRL #3 Gamecocks. ODS national ranking: #4.
RIGHT: ODS called the Florida win.
WRONG: ODS called for an Auburn win.
We arrive at week 7 with a daunting task: upsetting LSU in Baton Rouge. The DigiBayou Bengals have been exposed, losing to UF last week in a back-and-forth contest. Now back at home, they'll be out for blood, and everyone knows that the only thing less likely than an LSU loss is back-to-back LSU losses. Of interest, Connor Shaw's getting a healthy amount of Heisman buzz as ODS wears on.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: I've decided to bold all major game events as opposed to just scores. This way, the skimmers among you (re: everyone) can get a better feel for the dramatic flow of the game.
DigiMike the Tiger is rolled out onto the field, and if this was Grand Theft Auto you'd have to imagine he'd break free from that cage and tear through the first row of the student section and make his way up to the pressbox and corner a trembling Mike Patrick, who offers a prayer-like recitation of the Joey Pankake story before being reduced to tiger chow.
LSU wins the toss and will kick.
FIRST QUARTER or SERIOUSLY ACE'S CATCH WAS REALLY IMPRESSIVE
USC starts at their own 20, and the first pass of the game from Shaw is to DigiQua (DIGIQUA!) Gilchrist for 5. Jump to 3rd and 12. Shaw drops back, and floats an arc down the sideline—and Ace Sanders makes the catch of his life, fully extending his 5'9" frame to snag a ball by the fingertips. It's good for 38 yards. (By the way, I actually yelled "OH!" when this happened. I am lonely.)
A studio update: Mississippi State has defeated Tennessee, handing the Vols their 2nd SEC loss. It's a big separator for the Cocks, as DigiUT was certainly in play in the SEC East.
The ball's at the LSU 30. Shaw drops back and decides to run, absorbing a punishing hit after a gain of 14. Some poor playcalls result in a 4th and long, so Adam Yates will come on for the kick. It's good, making it 3-0 Gamecocks.
LSU takes it from the 25, and after a 15 yard completion on 1st, they'll run the option. DJ Swearinger hits Zack Mettenberger behind the line. Why does anyone in this game run the option? The drive ends when LSU attempt a 46 yard field goal which falls well short. The Cocks take over on the 40, but go 3 and out. Punt right back. LSU pushes into SC territory, but not by much. Another punt, and it's a touchback.
Handoff to Lattimore is good for 4. Two minutes remain in the 1st. Another give to Latty and he picks up 5. It's 3rd and 1 and whatdyaknow! A sensible playcall in a handoff up the middle, good for 4 and a first down. Jump to 3rd and 13. Shaw has time, and he finds Ace Sanders for his second big catch of the day, this time for 47 yards. Shaw goes with the hot hand, targeting Ace again. But this time it backfires—picked in the endzone. LSU will have it at the 20.
Pass over the middle is good for 8 and that's how the quarter will end.
2ND QUARTER or WHEREIN SOME POINTS ARE SCORED
After gaining a first down, LSU tries to set up a screen pass, but Mettenberger can't get rid of it time. Jerideau and Quarles combine for a sack—and Quarles knocks it loose! But an O-lineman falls on it. It's 3rd and 21. There's a flag on the play, likely and offsides as the refs allow the play to continue. Clowney notches a sack, but it's for naught—it's Clowney who is dinged for the penalty. Still, it's 3rd and 16. Whammy takes a gamble and blitzes both safeties, and it pays off. Mettenberg is hit as he throws it and the ball goes nowhere. LSU punts, and Ace finds room to bring it back 16 yards to the USC 44.
Latty takes a nice run for 7 yards on 1st. Then Connor gets obliterated on 2nd, losing all 7. But on 3rd down, he atones, finding the man of the hour, Ace Sanders, for a TD. It's a 56 yard touchdown pass, and it's 10-0, Gamecocks.
After the touchback, LSU finally strings together a respectable drive, relying heavily on 4-6 yard runs by Spencer Ware. The ball is on the USC 31. Jump to 3rd and 8, and another poorly executed screen is swallowed up for a loss of 6. It's 4th and 14 and LSU will kick. It's up from 52, and good. 10-3, Gamecocks.
USC can't answer, and Hull's punt is taken at the 30 and returned for 11 yards.
Spencer Ware continues to thrive—he's up to 50 yards for the half. 2nd and 3, pistol formation, and they go playaction. Mettenberg hits DigiOdell Beckham Jr up the middle, and he races to the 18 before he's dragged down. On the next play, its another playaction pass, and Mettenberger connects with TE Chase Clement for an 18 yard TD. Back to back scoring drives for the Tigers, and it's tied at 10.
Byrd brings the kickoff to the 29, and the Cocks will look to end the scoring drought. After a few futile plays, the Cocks show 5 wide, Lattimore having split out. Shaw drops back. And its Lattimore he hits on a go route, unchecked! It's a 68 yard TD, and the Cocks respond—they lead 17-10 with just over 2 minutes left.
The kickoff only gets to the 16, and a holding penalty will bring it back half the distance. LSU is able to muster a first down, but ultimately will have to punt.
The Cocks, with all three timeouts remaining, will start the drive at the 24. We'll have to see how DigiSpurrier plays it.
First down and Shaw looks to pass. He hits DD Smith for a gain of 7 and the DigiCocks call a timeout. 2nd and 3 and Shaw will scramble. He gains 7 for the first. On the next play, Shaw is sacked. Shaw hurries the troops to the line, but he'll be sacked again. It's 3rd and 17, and the Cocks would do well to run out the clock. But Shaw's gonna throw it—no, he's sacked for a 3rd consecutive time. It's 4th and 23 and the Cocks will punt. The kick is taken to the LSU 42. They've got 1 timeout and 18 seconds.
Mettenberg drops back and hits a man for a paltry 2 yards. LSU finally calls timeout with 5 seconds remaining in the half. They'll try to launch one last pass, but Devin Taylor clocks Mettenberg and the throw goes nowhere. But there's one second left! They'll get to experience the drive for the last time again. The Hail Mary's swatted down though, and we'll go to half with the Gamecocks leading by 7.
C. Shaw: 8-12, 226, 2 TD, 1 INT
M. Lattimore: 9 rushes, 19 yards, 2 receptions, 67 yds, 1 TD
A. Sanders: 3 rec., 141 yds., 1 TD
THIRD QUARTER or THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING LEAD:
Opening kickoff taken to the 23. Z-Metts drops back and airs it out—he's sees one on one coverage! But Vic Hampton does a beautiful job defending the throw, and it's incomplete. Ware runs for 7 on 2nd down. It's a pitch on 3rd, and Damario Jeffery is there for the hit in the backfield. Ware coughs it up, but somehow an LSU player lands on it. Either way, it's 4th down and the Tigers will punt. Ace takes it to the USC 32.
But it's a three and out for Carolina. Hull's punt is mediocre, out of bounds at the LSU 35. Mettenberger seems to be settling in, connecting for consecutive first down throws. Bama still leads Mizzou by 10 (38-28 with 7 minutes remaining.) On 3rd and 8, Z-Metts drops back and launches one—but it's picked! DigiAkeem, as healthy as a draft horse, returns it 20-some yards. A huge stop for the D.
They'll pound the ball with DigiLatty, the junior taking consecutive gives for 4, 5 and 6 yards. But he comes up lame, folks. How bad is it? We'll wait and see. They'll give it to Miles on the ensuing play, and he'll gain 7. Clearly, DigiSpurrier's taking the pressure of Shaw here after so many trips to the turf. But on the next play, Shaw hits Ace on the slant for a gain of 7. 2nd and 2, and Justice Cunningham hauls one in for 5. DigiCock Nation exhales as Lattimore trots back out on the field. After a drop by DD Smith, Shaw zips one to DL Moore—caught! He'll run it in for the touchdown. It's 24-10, South Carolina.
The kickoff is returned to the 22. With under 5 left in the third, LSU must start producing. On first down, it's incomplete. But on second down, Mettenberger finds his longball stroke, connecting with Russell Shepard for a 78 yard touchdown bomb. It's 24-17, Gamecocks.
Don't look now, but Mizzou is within 3 of Bama with 2 minutes left! Back in Baton Rouge, the Gamecocks go three and out. Punt.
Shepard returns the punt to the 43. After a quick first down, the pass is complete to Russell Shepard, up over 100 yards now, and it's 2nd and 1. Draw play is sniffed out, loss of 2 for Ware. It's 3rd and 3. But he'll run for 6 on the next play and it's 1st and 10 on the Gamecocks 28. But the D holds, and LSU will have to settle for the field goal. The kick is up and good—it's 24-20, with the Gamecocks clinging to the lead.
Bama has preserved the victory over Mizzou, avoiding what would have been an historical upset.
Touchback, and the Cocks will start at the 25. Shaw's got a bad case of the cut-and-runs, and SC native Sam Montgomery, who wasn't a sure thing to play tonight, sacks him again. Shaw will recoup the yardage on a pass to Cunningham, but it's now 3rd and 9. DigiConnor threads the needle to DeAngelo Smith, who benefits from some poor tackling and picks up the 1st down. After a no-gain 1st, Shaw scrambles for 9.99999 yards on 2nd. It's 3rd and inches, and we'll have to wait for the beginning of the 4th quarter to see what happens.
FOURTH QUARTER or IF YOU ACTUALLY READ ONE QUARTER LEAD IT BE THIS ONE
The ball's on the LSU 49. It's 3rd and inches. It's the WildCock formation. Direct snap to DigiBruuuuce, and boy does he JUST get the first. I mean, he might have picked up .00002 yards, but it's enough for a fresh set of downs. On first and 10, it's some weird-ass option I've never seen the DigiCocks run, but it gains 6, so whatever. on 2nd, Shaw throws out to the flat were Ace Sanders and two titanic LSU defenders are waiting. It's a dangerous throw, and it costs him: picked off.
Mettenberger completes a pass to the dangerous Shepard for 25 yards, followed by another 11 yard completion. The Tigers have all the momentum—DigiDeath Valley is living up to its billing as the toughest place to play on NCAA 13. Jump ahead to 1st and 10 on the USC 15. Incomplete on first—a would-be pick is dropped by Auguste, whose health should nonetheless go unquestioned. LSU won't pick up a first on 2nd or 3rd, and will kick another field goal. Once again USC forfeits points without giving up the lead. It's 24-23 Gamecocks with 7:29 to go.
The Cocks need to stop the bleeding. Starting on the USC 23, Shaw checks down to Latty for a gain of 8. Handoff to Lattimore on 2nd, and he'll only gain 1. An enormous 3rd and 1 upcoming. Shaw will drop back to pass—and the aggressiveness pays off. Ace Sanders, once again, has blown past the coverage, and he will haul in the bomb for a long touchdown—this one goes for 67 yards. It's 31-23 Gamecocks with 6:41 left.
LSU will start from the 24—now the 19, after a false start. But they pick up a long 3rd down conversion. Jump to the ensuing 3rd and 7. Mettenberger's pass is complete down the line—but wait! Illegal touching—James Wright had stepped out of bounds before making the catch. It's the right call, and a huge break for the DigiCocks. LSU will have to punt.
The Cocks will start the drive from the LSU 32. Shaw drops back and hits Cunningham for 9. 4:30 remains. It's halfback delay, and Lattimore has to fight to get back to the line. it brings up 3 and 1. Last drive, it was the same down and yardage when Shaw connected with Ace for the TD. This time, they give it to Lattimore and he loses a yard. 4th and 2, and Hull is on to punt. It's his strongest kick of the day.
Down 8 with 3:36 left, LSU will start at their own 27. All three timeouts, as well.
Handoff to Ware is good for 7 yards. Mettenberger follows with a pass to Wright for a gain of 6, and it's 1st and 10. The DigiCocks blitz 6 on the next play, but it's picked up, and Mettenberger connects with Ware for 6. Play action, and it's complete to Beckham for a gain of 16. LSU is now well into USC territory, on the 33. On 1st down, Ware takes it for 3. He'll pick up 5 more on 2nd down, and we're now down under 2 minutes. It's 3rd and 3. Ware in the backfield. The snap, and he'll get it again. A big hole, and Ware gains 10. DigiSpencer Ware is making this drive his own, folks.
It's 1st and 10 on the DigiCocks 20 yard line. LSU has the luxury of playing at their own pace. Mettenberger drops back and goes over the middle for 16.
It's now 1st and goal on the 5 yard line.
Play action, and Mettenberger goes to Beckham on the sideline. It's caught, but he's pushed out for no gain. 2nd down. A pass underneath is caught, but Shaq Wilson makes the tackle immediately, limiting the gain to 3. It's 3rd and goal on the 2 yard line. 1 minute to go
Handoff to Ware; HE WON'T GET IT. Excellent job by the defense to disallow him from gaining any yards after contact. It's 4th and goal on the inch line.
In the most ill-advised play call in the history of LSU football, Mettenberger takes it from the shotgun and looks to pass. He scrambles around in the pocket for a few seconds, trying to find an open man. Byron Jerideau wraps him up...but Z-Metts shakes free! He dances back into the pocket, looking, looking...but he waits too long. Aldrick Fordham sacks him from behind! Turnover on downs. Tiger fans are incredulous.
The Gamecocks bleed out the clock, and will escape the first of their two 2012 Death Valley trips with a win.
#4 Gamecocks topple #10 LSU in the Bayou, 31-23.
C. Shaw: 17-24, 379 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
M. Lattimore: 22 rushes, 49 yds, 3 rec., 75 yds, TD
A. Sanders: 5 rec, 216 yds, 2 TD, Player of the Game
S. Wilson: 11 tackles, 5 TFL
WEEKLY HONORS: None
South Carolina and Florida remain the lead dogs in the SEC East Fight, and the hype surrounding next week's match-up of two divisional undefeateds will rival that of LSU v. Bama from 2011.
Out west, Alabama flirts with failure but their win, paired with LSU's second consecutive loss, will effectively end the Tigers' SEC West bid. But lookout for DigiAuburn, who sits at 3-1 in conference. If they can go into the rivalry game with only 1 SEC loss, it could decide the West. [ed: Stop laughing.]
AROUND THE DigiNCAA
SCORES OF NOTE:
TCU 34 - Baylor 6: The Horned Frogs hand DigiBaylor its first loss of the season.
Texas Tech 47 - West Virginia 35: The Red Raiders move to 6-0.
Texas 36 - Oklahoma 14: DigiUT takes the Red River Shootout.
INJURIES OF NOTE:
Oklahoma QB L. Jones out for 5 weeks with a torn groin, and everyone just cringed and crossed their legs.
Conclusion, Week 7
The DigiCocks notch the most impressive of road wins—note that neither of the first two road wins were especially dominant in either real life or ODS. At any rate, DigiConnor continues to serve as the true field general of this team despite DigiLatty's relatively low-profile season. The DigiCocks' unrivaled aerial attack isn't exactly mirrored by their flesh and blood counterparts, but notwithstanding, both are in the hunt for the East.
Next week, it's USC at UF. To quote Akeem Auguste: it's gonna be love.