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FIVE REASONS: South Carolina vs. Clemson

Go to the Game Thread to leave your thoughts about the battle of Good vs. Evil and Well-Done Color Scheme vs. Eye-Bleeding Monstrosity.


1. ACC vs. SEC. I kind of made fun of Ron Morris for his picks, but he makes one good point before going round the bend:

Middle-of-the-pack SEC vs. middle-of-the-pack ACC makes for easy pick.

You could argue that there's a gulf of difference between South Carolina's "middle of the pack" (7-4, 4-4 SEC, 6-4 vs. FBS) and The Team from the Upstate's "middle of the pack" (6-5, 4-4 ACC, 4-5 vs. FBS). But that doesn't really matter. Morris is right that South Carolina's .500 record in the SEC is worth more than The Team from the Upstate's .500 mark in the ACC. Every league in America is better than the ACC, with the possible exception of the Big East. South Carolina is better prepared for a big game.

2. Not the DaviSpiller monster you remember. In fact, James Davis and C.J. Spiller have looked downright mortal this year, combining for 110 ypg. Neither has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game since both of them did it against Maryland on Sept. 27. In years past, this was a running back tandem to fret over. But this year, much like the rest of The Team from the Upstate, there's no reason to be concerned about them.

3. Steve Spurrier: Most important game. HBC clearly feels this is a huge match-up for the Gamecocks.

Your in-state rival game is the biggest game of the year unless you're playing for the conference championship. We aren't doing that, so it's our biggest game of the year.

That means the trick plays and offensive scheming will be out in full force. You have to believe that Spurrier will have a few things none of us have seen before ready for the Tiggers. Here's betting they'll work.

4. The South Carolina defense. Even after the disaster in the Swamp, the Gamecocks are the 11th-ranked defense in the nation; the Team from the Upstate ranks 85th in total offense. This could be a fun game for Eric Norwood and Co.

5. One quarterback. I might not think it's the right choice, but at least it's a choice. I would argue that it takes more talented quarterbacks to thrive in a rotation, not less talented signal-callers. But, in any case, Chris Smelley is our quarterback. And to not have a plural in that sentence is a good thing.



1. The passing game. This has less to do with Smelley -- I think he'll be fine -- than with The Team from the Upstate's defense. The Farmers are ranked 5th against the pass and have the nation's 15th-ranked pass efficiency defense. If they manage to pick off a pass or two, Spurrier's promise to stay with Smelley through the entire game might fall by the wayside.

2. History. Let's face it, the Gamecocks haven't exactly had a great deal of success against the Team from the Upstate, going 37-64-4 all time and 8-15-1 away from Columbia. There are more lopsided "rivalries" in college football, but not many. It's time to change that, but until the Gamecocks do, it's something to consider.

3. C.J. Spiller. He and Davis might not be having that much success running the ball, but Spiller is still a talented player (I've always seen him as the better of the two), and he averages 138.9 all-purpose ypg. He catches, he returns, he does a little bit of everything -- meaning he gets plenty of opportunities to defeat us.

4. Rushing offense. Meanwhile, South Carolina's rushing offense is, to say the least, mediocre. Whine all you want about Mike Davis, or about the critcism of Mike Davis, the fact of the matter is that the ground attack isn't much of an attack right now. It's more of a feint. If there's a weakenss in The Team from the Upstate's defense, it's against the running game. Can the Gamecocks take advantage?

5. It's a rivalry. Throw out the records; they don't matter. The Team from the Upstate might not be the better team on paper, but that might not make much difference. And they have some added motivation -- keeping Dabo Swinney and going to a bowl -- the Gamecocks can't match.

PREDICTION: I'd love to say "I told you so," but really I didn't. I just chose the Gamecocks before the season because I never choose The Team from the Upstate to win this game. (It's superstitious, really; if I always choose the Gamecocks to win this game, I can't cause problems by choosing them in a particular year. It makes much more sense in my head.) In any case, this is the perfect set-up for the Gamecocks to win: TTFTU isn't very good this year, there's uncertainty in their future and South Carolina is the better team on paper. Here's hoping they're the better team on the field, as well. South Carolina 24, Clemson 17