Gamecocks, Tigers serious players in national title picture

When the college football polls come out Tuesday, both South Carolina and Clemson will be ranked in the top 5 – not in the state, but in the nation.

Not bad considering it was less than a year ago that the two in-state rivals were both ranked in the top 10 for the first time ever. Cue the Jefferson’s “Hey we’re moving on up!” music and circle Nov. 30 on the calendar.

Although the dust has barely had time to settle from their season openers, it’s hard for Palmetto State fans to take a peek at the bottom of the schedule and wonder what if the road to the national championship runs through West Pelham.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, the calendar had just struck September when the Tigers were putting the finishing touches on their victory over No. 5 Georgia to put themselves in the national title picture.

In one of the few times that this tired cliche is actually true, there really is a lot of football left to be played so let’s not count our Gamecocks before they hatch, or put the cart before the Tiger. OK, so those cliches don’t work so much.

So what did we learn from the opening week of the college football season? Well, it seems South Carolina has no problem against the ACC, and Clemson has no problem handling itself against SEC teams – except for South Carolina.

Consider this stat from new Grand Strand Sports Report contributor Reid Foster: The Tigers are 6-5 against SEC foes under coach Dabo Swinney, but 1-4 against the Gamecocks. That’s 5-1 against the rest of the league, with the only non-USC loss coming to eventual 2010 national champion Auburn.

Here’s another gem by Reid: If the Gamecocks can get past Georgia on Saturday, then USC and Clemson will only have one more game on their respective schedules against teams currently in the top 25, and those are at home. If both can run the table, all eyes will be on Columbia come Nov. 30.

Not just the state, but the nation.

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