Gamecocks and Tigers are in two very different leagues

South Carolina’s beat-down of Clemson on Saturday night confirmed two things for me that I have suspected about this season – the Tigers aren’t as good as people thought they were, and the Gamecocks aren’t as bad off as they once appeared.

If someone would have told you before the season that South Carolina would run the table in the SEC East and NOT win the division, or that Clemson would drop its last three road games by a margin of 102-43 but IS playing in the ACC title game, you would think the BCS had really blown a fuse.

But the Gamecocks may be headed to the GeorgiaDome after all – for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, not the SEC title game. By the way, last year’s Used-To-Be Peach Bowl featured 6-6 Tennessee vs. North Carolina, so get your popcorn ready.

Clemson, on the other hand, deserves an Emmy for Best Impersonation of a BCS Contender. For eight weeks the Tigers looked so good, including three straight wins over ranked teams that can now be discredited. Neither Auburn or Florida State looks all that impressive in November, and Virginia Tech, well, that discrediting comes Saturday in Charlotte.

Clemson has looked lost since Georgia Tech exposed the Tigers’ softness against the run, pulled off a comeback to beat Wake Forest, then absolutely mailed in the final two games at N.C. State and South Carolina. The fact that the Tigers are still mathematically alive for a BCS bowl berth is another strong argument for a playoff system.

Spurrier Superiority

One more thing has become clear in the Clemson-South Carolina series – Steve Spurrier can coach circles around Dabo Swinney, and has now done so three games in a row.

Spurrier met his match against Tommy Bowden, who had a solid scouting report on Spurrier’s loose-cannon tendencies from their days in the Florida-Florida State rivalry. Spurrier didn’t have the athletes to compete with the Tigers when he first arrived, so “Bobby’s boy” got the best of the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Despite Dabo being on the staff during those good old days, he hasn’t had a clue what Spurrier plans to do use his strengths to expose Clemson’s weakness. On Saturday USC almost tripled Clemson in total yards (420-153), and the same ratio exists in the combined score of their three meetings (97-37).

Saturday’s game was a classic case of Spurrier playing chess while Dabo played checkers. The Gamecocks mixed the run and pass to near perfection, crossing up Clemson’s defense with play fakes and flooded zones, while the Tigers offense could do neither. He did everything but put Dabo on the school bus and steal his lunch money.

Balancing Act

I’ve read more than a few places where some folks were demanding the SEC to redraw the dividing lines that separate East from West. There’s not enough parity between the two divisions, they say. The top three teams hold a virtual oligarchy over one division.

Yep, I remember reading it back in 2000, when the SEC East was the beast and the SEC West was second-best. Florida and Tennessee had won seven of the past eight SEC championship games and, along with Georgia, were enjoying an embarrassment of riches against the inferior SEC West.

That has all changed a decade later, with SEC West leaders LSU, Alabama and Arkansas also making up the top three in the BCS rankings. It now appears the rest of the nation has finally realized the SEC is superior and will let the league settle the national title among itself, with a rematch between two teams in the same division. Arkansas is third in the division and might be the third best team in the nation.

But the pendulum will swing the other way in another decade or so and South Carolina could be the driving force in bringing it back. Georgia got a lucky break by not having to play any of the Big Three this season, but the schedules will even out too. Spurrier will not retire until he hoists another SEC championship trophy in Atlanta.

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2 responses to “Gamecocks and Tigers are in two very different leagues”

  1. June says:

    Thank you for this article! GREAT….usually around here, Clemson is top dog NO matter what.

    Please check out my son Adam Garret in Columbia, SC Facebook and twitter sites.

    He is an avid Gamecock alumni fan. He is writting a lot of articles about the Gamecocks of cource and other teams as well. He is also on a radio broadcast off and on too.

    Some great post by him and other’s in the know!

    Lifeofagamecock.com

    Thank you very much,
    proud mother of Adam and
    a 50+ yr Gamecock fan…
    OH my cousin David Lucas played in the late 60’s
    he was on that Championship team of 1969

  2. June says:

    In my previous post…it was ADAM GARRETT…….tying error! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Thanks again
    June

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