Polish off your “Beat Clemson” shirts and break out the stuffed tigers hung on a stick because it’s Rivalry Week.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, where friendships go out the window for a few hours and tears are shed more after a loss than at a wedding or funeral.
Usually I save major storylines for later in the week, but there are so many going into to this game, especially those that can motivate a disgruntled South Carolina team, it’s hard not to focus on them this early in the week.
So here you go, a list of some big motivators to that could keep this game interesting on Saturday.
So read this and keep yourself preoccupied so you don’t yell at your coworker for wearing that orange paw print tie to work.
A Cinderella Story
When Spurrier retired, it would have taken a miracle or magic for Elliott to lead this team to a bowl. Facing the teeth of their schedule after the fire breathing, intense ox that is Shawn Elliott took over; fans knew it was going to be hard to succeed. The team has played well for the most part, but Elliott’s Cinderella run has ended after the upending at the hands of the Citadel. So this team is being coached by someone who won’t be the next head coach and has players with nothing on the line except pride and the ability to ruin their rival’s current Cinderella season. What could be more dangerous?
Remember when Deshaun Watson said he wasn’t going to lose to South Carolina while at Clemson? Yeah, I bet the players do too. If I’m Elliott, that quote stays plastered on the board throughout the week in every meeting room, locker room and bathroom. If ruining Clemson’s perfect season isn’t enough to fire up the team, maybe that quote can be.
South Carolina’s underdog fight
It’s telling when Vegas opens the line with Clemson 15.5 point favorites and people think it’s too low (the line has now moved to 17.5 right now). This makes South Carolina a significant underdog, at home even. Sports love a good underdog (Rocky, Hooisers, the Washington Sentinels from “The Replacements”) so it could be a rallying cry for the Gamecocks. It all depends on how the team looks at the odds. If they look at it as “woe is us, nothing we can do about it,” then it might be a long day Saturday. But, if it turns into a “let’s show them what we’re made of,” type of mantra, then the game could be closer than a lot of people expect.