Well, it’s finally here: The South Carolina Gamecocks make the unfortunate trip up to the hills tonight to take on the Clemson Tigers in another edition of the Palmetto Bowl. Here’s how the GABA crew is feeling about the state of things.
Kody: Despite the up-and-down rollercoaster we’ve been on for most of the season, I’ve actually been pretty optimistic over the past several weeks. Unfortunately, that feeling has left me for this one. The gap between Carolina and Clemson is still far too big, especially when you throw in the Gamecocks’ recent injury woes. Tonight, I’m mostly going to be looking for some signs of fight (and not the personal foul variety). It’s one thing to lose, but the past two games haven’t been even remotely competitive. I’d like to see Jake Bentley perform the way he’s capable of, and above all, I’d like to see this team and this coaching staff look like they’re actually taking the game seriously. Bryan McClendon has had an underrated and creative season as offensive coordinator -- why not dial up everything and the kitchen sink? I’m seeing a 45-17 type of result here, but again, I’m crossing my fingers for a spirited effort nonetheless.
Cole: Well, we’re on the doorstep of another Palmetto Bowl and to be honest it’s another uphill battle for the Gamecocks. The last time Jake Bentley and the Garnet and Black went up to Pickens it was a loss that showed the talent difference on both sides. This time however, the Gamecocks are a LOT better on the offensive side of the ball. I do think Carolina can put up some points, maybe in the 20-27 range. The problem is the depleted Carolina defense. The Gamecocks rank 101st in rush defense in the country and that is a huge problem. Clemson has electric back Travis Etienne who has more rushing touchdowns (17) than all of the backs in Columbia combined (15). It’s hard to see a win for the good guys on this one. I’m going to go with a 44-17 win for the Tigers. Prove me wrong Gamecocks. Please prove me wrong.
Demetri: I know Clemson is the second best team in America, and yet somehow I remain thoroughly unimpressed by them. Maybe it’s a comparison thing. Lawrence is good, but he isn’t Tua. Etienne is good, but he isn’t Jonathan Taylor. Maybe it’s pure anti-Clemson bias. Whatever the case, I think this is a game that is going to make Clemson look good by beating up on a team that they have way more talent than. The same thing will happen next week against Pitt. The same thing will happen in the first round of the playoff against Notre Dame. Then they’ll lose to Alabama by 654 in the National Championship Game. But for Saturday, let’s say Clemson wins 48-10. I am low on optimism in this one.
Katie: As is my duty as GABA’s resident Eternal Sports Optimist, I’ve called this game as an upset already (it’s on twitter, inevitably a Clemson fan will jump in my mentions soon). I have literally no reason to think the Gamecocks can actually make my prediction come true, because even though I very much want them to win, and as much as it hurts my soul to admit, Clemson remains the clearly superior football team right now. That being said, anything can happen in any given game, so technically USC could in theory pull off a miracle victory. In all seriousness, I don’t really believe in moral victories, but if the Gamecocks can just manage to keep this one competitive, at least it won’t be a total nightmare to watch. Godspeed to the team and to anyone making the trek to the game.