For Gamecock fans, one of the most delightful aspects of South Carolina's current run of success against Clemson is that most of the victories have come over some very good Clemson teams. After all, South Carolina represented three of Clemson's seven total losses spanning the 2011-2013 seasons. Despite a number of prominent successes for the Tigers—a conference championship, an Orange Bowl win, fielding some of the best players in program history—those triumphant seasons are tinged within the state's borders by rivalry game futility. And outcome aside, the ascent of both programs has brought a previously unforeseen level of national attention to the rivalry, leading to scores of fluffy "most underappreciated rivalry in football" articles and, yes, primetime kickoffs.
But, 2014. Neither team is quite what it's been these past few seasons. Carolina's disastrous midseason stretch and Clemson's tepid play as of late pair for a relatively unsexy matchup to the outsider. Neither team factors into its conference title. Carolina's got coaches on the hotseat. Clemson could be without its freshman megastar. Add it all up, and the game loses its luster to non-fans.
Ergo, the 2014 Palmetto State Rivalry game will kickoff at noon for the first time since 2009. Of course, the matchup doesn't lack for storylines. Clemson's elite defense is worth the price of admission, and a win could push the Tigers into Orange Bowl. A win for South Carolina means, of course, a sixth consecutive trophy hoist and a partially salvaged season.
Plenty of preview material to follow this week.