It's rivalry weekend, and three SEC teams face longtime foes from the
Athletically Challenged Conference ACC. Vanderbilt also faces off with Wake Forest in a football game that is played without anyone really knowing why. We present a look at some of the games through the bloggers that covered them, or through our own eyes if need be. In the case of South Carolina-Clemson, we have the fine folks from the SB Nation blog covering Clemson, Shakin The Southland, and Garnet And Black Attack, which ought to be known around these parts. The visiting blog, of course, goes first.
FIGUREFOUR, Shakin The Southland (Clemson):
When Clemson takes the field this Saturday against the Gamecocks, we at Shakin the Southland think that Clemson's defense will need a fantastic football game out of the defense. South Carolina has a tremendous running back and a crew of talented wide receivers who have played well all season. Clemson will need to force some mistakes out of Stephen Garcia and cannot allow Carolina to get into a rhythm on offense. This involves Clemson forcing this Gamecock offense into 3rd and long situations AND getting these stops to stall drives.
Offensively, the Tigers are aware that Carolina's secondary is seen as the weakness of their defense. Clemson will need to exploit this over the course of the football game. If we can get Jamie Harper going early and can utilize play action, it would be a real help for Kyle Parker. Parker is also a rhythm guy who is generally either "ON" or "OFF", so it is important to get him going early.
Long and short, Clemson has not lost two in a row to the Gamechickens in four decades. Dabo has a lot of pressure on him to avoid being the first coach in this time frame to lose in such a fashion. Let's see if he can rise to the occasion like his predecessor Tom Bowden and win games when he absolutely needs a win.
Gamecock Man, Garnet And Black Attack (South Carolina):
Clemson-South Carolina may not get the national attention of Auburn-Alabama or Ohio St.-Michigan, but the Palmetto State rivalry is every bit as heated. The history of this one includes an armed showdown between Clemson cadets and USC students on USC's campus; USC frat boys running onto the field before one year's game dressed as Clemson players and pretending to milk cows as part of their warm-up routine; and a vicious brawl between the two teams a few years back. It's a brutal rivalry with deep roots.
This year's game features a couple of storylines of note. First of all, the role-reversal factor: last year, Clemson came into the game with a conference-title tilt coming up the following week, and this year, Carolina is in that role. Last year, Carolina put a black mark on an otherwise memorable season for Clemson; will the Tigers return the favor this time around? The second storyline is Carolina's chance to make another clean break with its past in a season in which it has done a good bit of that. The Gamecocks have not fared well at all against the Tigers in recent decades and have not won two in a row since the 1960s. With Carolina fielding its best team in recent years and the Tigers struggling, this looks to be the best chance in some time the Gamecocks have had to break that streak.
Thanks to FIGUREFOUR and Gamecock Man for giving us their thoughts, and make sure to check out their respective blogs leading up to and during this weekend's games.