Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

So, have you taken a look at the schedule yet? Because I’m a man who’s about full disclosure, I’ve probably looked at the schedule 4 times before today. In a related story, I wasn’t really excited about football season until about a week ago. Anyway, the typical September cupcake feast (excluding the opener, which happens in August anyway so it doesn’t count) gives way to a pretty brutal October (vs. Georgia, at LSU, at Florida) and the typical end of season challenge (hosting Tennessee, Arkansas and Wofford and traveling to Clemson). It’s not necessarily easy street, but that’s a good thing. Win 9 games, and the team is sure to be looked upon favorably by the pollsters. Win 10 or more games, and you’re a contender. Go 7-5? Well, “the schedule was difficult”. It’s a win-win, you guys!!! Anyway, let’s see how this season turns out, shall we?

August 30: @ Vanderbilt (Thursday)
I will forever be terrified of Thursday night games. At least America doesn’t have to suffer through listening to and looking at Craig James. (For what it’s worth, I do like David Pollack quite a bit. I appreciate any guy that can effectively use the word “cat” in a sentence, yet not in reference to the animal.) Anyway, you can actually say “Vanderbilt has a decent team” and actually mean it. Jordan Rodgers is a decent QB who should only improve, and if you have time to have a dance off during a team meeting, well, I think you’re doing something right. However, I think the Gamecocks have enough to overcome whatever the Commodores may throw at them. Try as they might, the Gamecocks have yet to lose an opener under Steve Spurrier. I think that continues here. WIN

September 8: vs. East Carolina
So, it looks like the Gamecocks will travel to Greenville to play the Pirates in…2015. That’s right around the corner! Now that things have shifted to a “playoff“, I really hope that the Gamecocks will start to schedule legitimate opponents for the non conference portion of the schedule. (And you can take your “but the SEC schedule is tough enough!” nonsense and shove it up your ass. I’m not sorry I said that.) Of course, the Gamecocks are not alone in “soft-ish” scheduling:
-USC Trojans (They’re the “realer” USC): Host Hawaii and Syracuse
-Oregon: Host Arkansas State and Tennessee Tech. Who? Exactly.
-Florida State: Hosting Murray State and Savannah State
-Oklahoma State: Hosting Savannah State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Savannah State is popular, it seems!
-Clemson: Hosting Ball State and Furman
Sure, you can argue that “everybody else is doing it”. That doesn’t make the actual game any more exciting. Anyway, East Carolina made the Gamecocks sweat for a while, and lost by a wide margin even though South Carolina turned it over approximately 59 times. The first game jitters should be out of the way, so this will be a WIN.

September 15: vs. UAB
The Blazers are no strangers to being a sacrificial lamb playing South Carolina in September. And, given that South Carolina didn’t have a good result the last time they were in Birmingham, I can see why this game is usually played in Columbia (that and, well, who wants to watch a football game in Birmingham?!!? I don’t know anything about UAB, and I’m not sure that I really *need* to know anything. What I do know is that this should be a rather easy WIN for the Gamecocks.

September 22: vs. Missouri
It’s the first game of the season (that I’m actually interested in)!!! This game probably got 42 times easier knowing that Henry Josey won’t be playing. Of course, I didn’t know who Henry Josey was before ten minutes ago. I really feel like Missouri is an intriguing team this year. I think they’re playing with house money (who knows what that means? I don’t) as a new member of the division, and it’s not like they’re a terrible squad. I think they’re better than Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee. They host Georgia, and they’ve beaten a top ranked Oklahoma in Columbia (Missouri) before. I think this should be a WIN for South Carolina, but only because they’re in “Never Forget” mode about the 2005 Independence Bowl. I really feel like this game could go either way. (Okay, maybe I’m the only person still bitter about that game. Whatever.)

September 29: @ Kentucky
This is a “Never Forget” game also. South Carolina rolled into Lexington in 2010 fresh off a win over (at the time) top ranked Alabama. After building a 28-10 lead, things fell apart. And by “fell apart”, I mean “the winning TD catch was caught by Kentucky’s best player who was WIDE OPEN“. While I believe that every conference road game presents a unique set of challenges, I still think that South Carolina is better than Kentucky. Doesn’t that still count for something? WIN

October 6: vs. Georgia
Did you know the Gamecocks play 9 weeks in a row to open the season? Jesus, be an ice bath! Of course, this is the first of three weeks against ranked (hopefully) opponents. A pu pu platter of Georgia, LSU, and Florida isn’t necessarily the most fun way to celebrate the midpoint in the season. To be honest with you, I’d rather play this game earlier in the season. Every good team has usually hit their stride come October, so the advantage of “not finding your groove yet” won’t be there for this game. I think this game will be a LOSS for a few reasons:
1. While Mark Richt has probably already lost control of the season, hard to think he could survive three losses in a row to South Carolina.
2. Georgia seems to find a way to win in Columbia. All of the time! I was there for the Blackout in 2004, only to see a 16-0 lead evaporate before our very eyes. That was sad.
(Okay, so maybe I only have two reasons. Whatever.)
I think the Gamecocks have a great team. I just don’t see that team starting out 6-0. I’d rather be wrong, but we shall see.

Check back for Part 3 to read how I see the rest of the season shaking out

In the 20 years that I’ve been watching sports, I could probably find about 34962 things that really stood out to me (Hey there, LeBron James!). However, since themes are cooler, I will turn them into twenty. Here’s the first of 20 sports moments (sincce 1990 that have made me the psycho sports fan that I am today. Cue the music!

This is not a sight that people are used to seeing. Well, people who like the Gamecocks, that is.

As fate would have it, I’m a fan of teams that usually disappoint when it matters the most (does the phrase “14 consecutive division titles, but only one World Series championship” mean anything to you?). Amongst the Braves, Panthers, Bobcats, Chargers (Nate Kaeding, le sigh.) and Gamecocks, I could have shed enough tears to fill an ocean. Alas, I’m a man, I’m 40! so I don’t cry (over sports). Either way, plenty of disappointment to go around.

The Gamecocks have seemingly been able to create so much disappointment to the point that my other teams could win titles every year, and I would still be depressed when even thinking about the Gamecocks. There have been many theories, from the Chicken Curse (check number 3 on this page) to the Confederate flag curse (this is somewhat verbatim from a guy at my barber shop: “South Carolina won’t win a DAMN THANG TIL THEY TAKE THAT FUCKIN FLAG OFF THE STATE HOUSE GROUNDS.”). It’s not like the school has had only mediocre players (Alex English, Justin Smoak, Landon Powell, George Rogers, Sterling Sharpe, Dunta Robinson, Demetrius Summers to name a few) and coaches (OK, so Sparky Woods may not wake up the echoes. I get that!). Of course, I can wax poetic about the “rabid fan base,” but that really doesn’t explain the long line of disappointing finishes. How disappointing? Like this:

  • In consecutive years as a 2 (1997) and 3 seed (98) (respectively) in the NCAA basketball tournament, the Gamecocks lost in the first round to Coppin State (a 15 seed) and Richmond (14 seed).
  • An undefeated 1984 Gamecock football team lost the next to last game of the season…at home. To Navy.
  • On the road against top ranked Florida, South Carolina has two field goals and an extra point blocked to lose…by one point.

I could continue to go on, but I may or may not break my laptop. The letdowns above made the championship over UCLA that much more amazing. I didn’t really keep up with Gamecock baseball (save for one regular season game back in April) throughout the season, and after losing the first game to Oklahoma in the College World Series, I didn’t really like our chances. Then, um, they won every game after that.

I was on my way home from work when Scott Wingo got on base in the 11th. I was hoping that I could actually get home in time to see the winning run score. Well, Whit Merrifield had other plans. Once his hit dropped in the outfield, (allowing Wingo to score) I let out a scream that The Lady described as “the scream the alien let out when it was killed by the Predator.” (What can I say, I got a little excited). I then came home to go a little crazy on Facebook, (this file is safe, I promise) did a little more yelling, and watched the highlights from the game about 46 times. It was just hard to belive that South Carolina had been able to finally break through.

Of course, the celebration was not done. I’m thinking that if they had the “Cock Rally” at Williams-Brice Stadium, it would have been filled. My own estimate of the crowd at the Colonial Life Arena

This is really the only part of the alma mater that people know.

was about 7 million, but I could be wrong. Nobody cared that they were showing the game again, they still went crazy once Scott Wingo crossed home plate to win the championship. There was even more yelling once the team finally made it to the arena. There was also a cheesy parade, and the Gamecock flag waved at the top of the State house for a little while (take THAT, Sons of the Confederacy!). It proves that no matter what, people like winners. And it also means that people can’t just chuckle when I mention that I attended the University of South Carolina. Well, they still can. But I can now throw this championship out as something to, uh, stand on. And it also gives me a great start to 20 for 20!