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Mary Ann Chastain – AP
South Carolina’s quarterback Stephen Garcia (5) looks to throw during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Troy Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
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Here we are, folks. The last regular-season game of our magical 2010 season. Will we round off things going into the SEC Championship Game with a win over our rivals the Clemson Tigers? Or will we allow the Tigers to put a damper on what we’ve achieved so far? Here are my thoughts on the game.
3. Disrupt the Clemson Offense from the Beginning
Clemson will look to establish the run with Jamie Harper (and possibly Andre Ellington) and then use play action to try to open up the passing game. The Tigers will look to get Kyle Parker into a rhythm early, as he’s the kind of player who is either hot or not. Carolina’s front-line needs to dominate this game from the beginning, corral Harper, and put lots of pressure on Parker. If we can bop Parker a few times early, I like our chances to rattle him and cause him to play a poor game throughout the evening. Unless we turn the ball over a lot, we’ll win if that happens. Clemson can’t come into this game and expect to win if it can’t score more than 20 points or so, and it’s had a lot of trouble doing that this year.
2. Contain the Pass Rush, Especially Da’Quan Bowers
Just as we’ll look to rattle Parker, the Tigers will look to rattle Stephen Garcia, who has his own history of folding in tight, hard-hitting games. Bowers is one of the nation’s best pass-rushers, and he’ll provide a stiff challenge for our line. If Clemson’s front is able to dominate this game, it could be a long afternoon for us.
1. Run the Football Well
It’s what makes this team go. When Marcus Lattimore and the running game are clicking, the Gamecocks’ entire offense plays well, we keep the defense off the field and fresh, and we generally win easily. The goal in this game will undoubtedly be to get things started on that foot again. Clemson’s run defense is good, but they have been known to have trouble with backs of lesser caliber than Lattimore.
What It Means
This game has no major national implications and doesn’t affect our conference standing. However, the stakes are high for a Gamecocks program trying to establish recruiting superiority in the state of South Carolina. Plus, bragging rights are on the line. That’s important to me. I don’t care how much you say the SEC is more important; in-state rivalries are still what college football is all about. That means that this is the most important game of the season.
I see the Tigers coming to play in this one and challenging us to a tight game. This game is their Super Bowl and they’ll play accordingly. However, we have the superior team, and I think we persevere. 23-16 Gamecocks victory.