Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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We have been through this before: I am a fan, not a journalist. Yes, I have a blog, but that doesn't mean I am Dan Rather reporting the evening news. As a fan - and not a journalist - I have feelings, and right now those feelings suck! I am a fan of Clemson, and I am a fan of the ACC, and yesterday, those two things took a pop in the eye. Life goes on, but as I type this, I do not type it with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
South Carolina 34, Clemson 17.
It all started at noon yesterday when my Tigers took the field in Columbia to play the hated Gamecocks. I was nervous and confident at the same time about this game, and it turned out my nervous feelings were the true ones. For one thing, South Carolina had a pretty good team (no, I am not going to sit here and build them up to make our loss to them look better. Let's not forget that despite a tough schedule, this team had lost five times). But they still had good players, and Spurrier knew damn well he better win this game.
So I was nervous about that. I was also nervous that our group of 18-22 year olds wouldn't have their heads screwed on straight, and it turned out I was right about that, too. Yes, the USC defense had a ton to do with why Kyle Parker, CJ Spiller and crew only found the end zone one time on offense (please goodness don't dissect this article looking for ways to find me "whining," because for Heaven's sake I'm not.) But, I will just say we have looked better on offense.
The Gamecocks turned the game around in the first quarter. After a 7-0 Clemson lead courtesy of a Spiller kick return, Clemson was driving looking to go up 14-0. But instead, USC made a defensive play by making a hard tackle on Clemson running back Jamie Harper popping the ball loose, which was recovered and returned by Gamecock great Eric Norwood. That play won the game. Period. If Clemson scores, then USC has to change its game-plan early. But the Cocks made the play.
Again, I will repeat, USC made the play in this game. It was an early play, but it was a HUGE play, and it was USC that made it. Yes, CU had them right where they wanted them early, but South Carolina's defense caused THE play that changed the momentum of the game and a 14-point swing. From then on out it was basically a game that saw South Carolina pick up third downs when it needed them, and Clemson stopped when they needed to be stopped.
As a fan, my hat is off to the Gamecocks. I have been on the winning side of this game enough times to know how good it feels. I hope the Gamecock fans enjoy this, I really do. For in 2009, they proved to be the stronger team when they faced off head to head on the playing field.
Now, Clemson must regroup and find a way to beat Georgia Tech next week for the ACC Championship.
And speaking of that ACC Championship, some in SEC land would probably say "who cares?!" Yes folks, the ACC took one on the chin yesterday. Outside of Clemson losing to South Carolina, Georgia defeated Georgia Tech, and Florida blasted FSU. The Gator win was expected, but the Jackets lost to Georgia - at home - in a year when the Dawgs were down, down, down.
The saving grace for the league was Miami, who went on the road (sorta) to Tampa and defeated South Florida, 31-10.
The league didn't do itself any favors, either, when UNC lost to NC State, leaving the league with no top ten teams, and just three in the top 25.
Plain and simple, this weekend sucked. I am not going to sit here and act like it was the end of the world, but it was bad enough. Wins over Oklahoma, Nebraska, BYU, Pittsburgh and Stanford were pretty good. But just as the league had a chance to set up a conference title game featuring two top-13 (or so) teams, both lost, severely taking the polish off of its showcase game.
I still like ACC football and believe it is good. I really do. But as a true sports fan, I am not afraid to admit the SEC is stronger in football right now. They are, it is just a fact. I think the ACC is great to watch, and I love keeping up with teams like Miami and Virginia Tech and FSU - strong national teams perennially, but down right now. I also like to watch the progress of teams like UNC, GT and Clemson trying to get to a national level. But right now, the ACC must go back to the drawing board and figure out how to keep getting a bit better.
Thank goodness I can finally lay this to rest: Bye Charlie Weis, hello whoever. As I type this at 1:27 pm EST on Sunday afternoon, I am wondering if he has been fired yet (ESPN.com has nothing yet, anyway). The Irish were so bad under him, I am happpy for them that they will have a new coach. I feel for Weis as he is a ND alum and this must hurt. I am sure he is a good man, but he is a BAD college football coach.
Names that have been mentioned so far include Brian Kelly (Cincinnati), Urban Meyer (Florida), and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), among others...
Two title games to determine the title game.
Thanks to the happenings of this past weekend, the SEC title game and the Big 12 title game will determine who will play in the BCS title game. That is a lot of title games....Yes, the winner of the Florida-Alabama game is in, and if Texas wins, they are in, too. If you are TCU or Boise State or Cincinnati, you are pulling hard for Nebraska, and that is sadly your only chance to slide in (er, just one of you, though - fight it out amongst yourselves).
Kings of LA (by "Californiasgold" from our forum).
I'll admit this season has hit plenty of low points, but beating the crosstown rival puts all that in the past and I can say it's a great season. Still one game left against Arizona.
USC's decade of dominance over their two rivals UCLA and Notre Dame consists of a combined 17-3 record for the 2000s.
Now for some objective looks at things:
The defense played lights out, albeit against a poor offense. But holding opponents to 7 points is very much welcome, especially against UCLA. UCLA's defense played well too, but not well enough... Their offense just could not get anything going.
The Trojan offense sputtered and work still needs to be done, but they finished strong in the 4th quarter and it was nice to have a fully healthy team and Damian Williams playing again.
Sometimes I think how much the play calling sucks. It needs to improve, and after this season Jeremy Bates better change things up. Some wildcat formations or put Corp in for QB sneaks... even though UCLA's offense wasn't that good, I liked how they still made use of their QBs to run.
One more game against Arizona... If we can just keep that intensity and the momentum, USC can win, but I won't jump to conclusions. I'm just happy to get this win.
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