I remember when I read about this game three years ago in the The Greenville News. My first reaction was “cccoooooollll”, but upon further reflection I realized it was a no-win proposition.
You see, I graduated from Furman University. And then I went on to get a graduate degree from USC.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve hated C.T.U since their Charlie Pell Semi-Pro Days, and my first strong memory of college sports was watching (and instantly loving) Big George on a Sunday morning telecast of The Jim Carlen Show. My feelings for Carolina are strong, deep, and go back a long ways.
But how I feel about Furman is different. Furman is the first place that ever made me feel dumb, and the first place I ever debated a teacher and won. It’s the first place I read William Faulkner, and the place where I discovered Henry Miller. It was the first time I ever lived on my own, and the place where I dreamed up and then executed a scheme to camp all the way to California. It was where I first learned how to pick up girls and where I lost my -woah, [cough] ’bout to get too personal there.
Regardless, I love Furman. And I won’t ever be able to pull against my alma mater.
But this might be (dear Chicken-Curse-in-Exile, I said might be) a special year at Carolina, and so I can’t pull for a JMU/Vtech style upset of my Gamecocks.
And it’s not like the game is a given. Furman has a history of playing the big boys tough. A couple of victories over NC State, a beatdown of a Georgia Tech squad, and a hard-fought victory over the Gamecocks during Richard Bell’s lone season as head coach are all modern-era examples. Ask the Tar Heels about playing Furman for an even more recent example. I fondly remember sitting in the dorm room as a third year student and listening to the radio broadcast as the Paladins dropped a close contest against the Florida Gators and their first year head coach, some guy named Spurrier.
So I’ve played this game out in my head several different ways, and I think the following is the only thing that will make me happy:
1st Quarter – South Carolina runs two methodical drives down the field, and takes a 14-0 lead. Furman picks up a couple of first downs, and kicks a long field goal to make it 14-3.
2nd Quarter – Connor Shaw engineers a drive that ends in a field goal. Johnson starts sitting 1st stringers. Furman drives the field against the 2nd string and scores to make it 17-10 at the half.
3rd Quarter – Garcia plays the first series, throws TD pass to Jeffrey. Shaw engineers another drive that ends in a field goal. SC 27 FU 10 at end of quarter.
4th quarter – Spurrier begins mass substitution with walk-ons, etc. Furman scores two late touchdowns (one on a 50 yard out-and up against Carolina’s 4th string cornerback).
Final Score South Carolina 27 Furman 24. Respectable showing by the Paladins, but the Gamecocks can leave the field knowing their first units weren’t touched. Absolutely no injuries by either team.
This outcome might hurt us in the polls slightly (and that might be a good thing) but it keeps all the 2010 goals on the table for Carolina and lets Furman hold its head high as well.
Probably Outcome? No.
But it sure would make this dual-degree holder happy.