It’s hard to believe the CTU game is upon us and another football season has just about slipped through our fingers. It’s been a strange season. And as I type that I realize “strange” is only moderately adequate as a descriptor. Consider:
- The loss of Stephen Garcia, who had played poorly, and that’s being kind, in his early season appearances.
- The loss of Marcus Lattimore. The ultimate nightmare of the Gamecock fan, an injury that happened on a game-winning drive when he was BLOCKING for someone else.
- The baffling numbers of Alshon Jeffery through eleven games: 43 catches, 585 yards, 6 TDs. (Seriously, if you had seen those numbers before the season how many games do you think it would have taken to get them? Five? Six?)
- The loss of Kyle Nunn, who was obviously much more of a factor on our offensive line than anyone outside of the coaching staff gave him credit for.
- The unfortunate early season loss of Shon Carson, whose season we mourn because of his enormous potential. No one really talks about this, but remember he had moved up to second team tailback behind #21 and had shown a lot of explosiveness in practice.
- The last-minute injury/suspension reports that have become a weekly tradition. I feel like they play Wheel of Suspension about an hour before every game, and then the Twitter feeds explode with “[INSERT PLAYER NAME] is not going through warm-ups and is not dressed out”.
Yet, here we stand at 9-2, ranked 13th in the country and within reach of an 11-win campaign. The play of our defense combined with the emergence of Connor Shaw (somewhat expected) and Brandon Wilds (totally unexpected) moving the chains have saved our season.
Steve Spurrier just said today in his press conference “we’re not a great team, and we’re fortunate to be 9-2.” That’s exactly how I feel, but we also need to recognize there are two, maybe three great teams in the country this year, and they’re all in our conference. “Great” is relative in this wacky, surreal season.
With that said:
If we win Saturday and win our bowl game – spectacular season.
If we lose Satuday and lose our bowl game – disappointing season.
If we split…well, ask me later.
That means we have a ton left to play for, and Saturday should be a lot of fun.
On to the Tusings:
Code Red on the Excuse Meter. The upstaters are already working on their excuse in case of a loss Saturday – “we lost our left tackle whatshisname and Sammy Watkins is banged up”. Well, last I checked CTU’s injury situation doesn’t hold a candle to ours, and Gamecock fans expect win anyway. (Where have I heard that before?)
How We Win. Run the ball and stop the run? Not exactly – I say we definitely need to run the ball, move the chains, eat up clock, but on defense we need to guard against the long ball. CTU has the receivers to get deep, and we need to keep pressure on Boyd and keep Watkins, Hopkins, et al from hitting the big play.
Tommy Bowden Logic Prediction. CTU is 38 points from being undefeated, while South Carolina is only 19 points from being undefeated. Both teams have two losses, so you divide those numbers by two and subtract from each other, and according to Tommy Bowden Logic the Gamecocks will win by 10 points (rounding up the 9.5 point differential). Let’s call it 27-17 Gamecocks. Hooray!
1987. A lot of people are saying this is the biggest USC-CTU game since 1987, which was a battle of two highly ranked teams, and there’s definitely an argument for that. 1987 happened to be my freshman year at South Carolina, and to this day I can say I’ve never seen a wilder, louder crowd in Williams-Brice Stadium. If you were there, how could you ever forget “ROD-NEEEEEEE! ROD-NEEEEEEE!” Has it really been 24 years? Ah, memories…
USC Bowl Destination. I have to say I’m intrigued with the thought of playing in the Cotton Bowl. A shiny new stadium has resurrected the Cotton as a premiere bowl destination, and you also get a day all to yourself (Jan. 6) to showcase your program. Outback? Meh, I’m not going to complain, but it would be nice to take at least a half step up in the bowl pecking order, which the Cotton would be. Facing Oklahoma or Oklahoma State? We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
BCS Title Game Rematch? Lotsa debate going on right now on whether the BCS National Championship game should be a rematch between LSU and ‘Bama. My opinion? If both teams can come away unscathed over the next two weeks, then absolutely they should play for the National Title. The BCS title game should match the two best teams in the country, regardless of conference or even division within conference. I dare anyone to make an argument for any team other than those two (again, provided they don’t lose until then). Oklahoma State? Oregon? Stanford? You all had your chance, now step aside and let the big boys decide it. Again.
How the Mighty Have Fallen. Much has been made of the tumbling fortunes of Florida and Tennessee in the SEC East the past two years. At the beginning of this year I sang the praises of Derek Dooley, saying he was the right man at the right time at UT, and that they were going to surprise some people. Well, I’m here to say I WAS DEAD WRONG PEOPLE.
This video shows just how far the mighty Volunteers have fallen. A wild celebration and trash talk after a monumental victory over…Vanderbilt? A team you have owned forever, winning 28 of the last 29 times you’ve played? For your first conference victory of the year?
Congratulation to James Franklin, whom we like a lot, for earning this kind of respect in such a short time in Nashville.
But come on Tennessee (and I never, ever thought I’d say this), but you’re better than that.