Nov 28

Gamecocks Make a Point

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags: BCS, college football

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Photo: US Presswire (click to enlarge)

South Carolina 29, Clemson 7. The Top Fan has had better football seasons. As much as I claim to be the ultimate college football fan, from time to time it is hard to be hard-core. One of those times is now. After a long season of seeing my favorite team and conference underachieve, accompanied by several road trips and two weddings, I am exhausted with the collegiate gridiron. Last night's loss to South Carolina was the nail in the coffin for a 2010 season that I hope to forget...But fear not, despite the troubles of Clemson and the ACC, I will be ready with full enthusiasm for the championship games six days from now - I may just need to regroup....

You see, to be a real fan - a Top Fan if you will - you have to live and die with one certain team. Right now, my one certain team is hurting, and thus so am I. The headache I sport while typing this is symbolic of the long, painful season this has been. Clemson is 6-6. The ACC just lost more out of conference games this past weekend. It's getting old, and its getting on my nerves. Tailgating in the beautiful setting of Clemson will always be one of my favorite things to do, but I'll tell you what, I'm more than ready to see a true top 15 football team in Clemson. Sadly to say, it's been a while.

The Gamecocks. Before I go on and on about my personal worries as a fan, let me congratulate South Carolina on a great win and a great season. The Gamecocks are the champions of the SEC East, and have defeated the Tigers for the second straight year. They have skill players and they have players in the trenches. They have a good gameplan (most of the time), and they seem to be on a mission to change the image of Gamecock football. Basically, this team can really play some good football.

Once again against Clemson, the skill of USC showed its potency. Alshon Jeffery was the weapon of choice this time for USC, with five catches for 181 yards and a touchdown. He is a true beast.

Marcus Lattimore didn't play like a superstar last night at running back. He didn't have to. He had 23 carries for 41 yards in the game, pushing his total to 1,114 on the year. One heck of a player indeed, and he will be well rested for Auburn.

Stephen Garcia managed the game well. He was 14 of 30 for 227 yards and 2 scores. Everyone loves to give Garcia a hard time, but the junior leads this team well. He will get to play in an SEC Championship Game and then he will return for a senior season. So will Lattimore. So will Jeffery. The Gamecocks will be good again in 2011.

So if you are a fan of USC, these are definitely the good times. Your team is 9-3 and is awaiting a nationally televised game to win the SEC. The BCS is a very real possibilty. Enjoy this week and these times Gamecock fans. No team in America has waited longer to have a very solid team to cheer for, and so I know Columbia will be buzzing over this team like mad this Holiday season and into 2011. It is well deserved and we will stay tuned to see what USC can do against the number two team in the nation, Auburn.

What's up in Tiger Town. Dabo Swinney is now 19-15 (4-3 as an interim in 2008) as the head coach of the Tigers. He is 6-6 in 2010 after completing his second season on the Clemson sideline. The reason this article is going up now and not late last night is that I wanted to make a fair evaluation of the situation and not write when surrounded by a bunch of loud, mixed opinions on Swinney. I wanted to think about it for a few minutes. Sleep on it.

My thoughts on Dabo are that he should get four years just as most any head coach would get at any school. I'm not sure who the blame should be placed on personnel-wise, but it is very obvious that Clemson was missing some key ingredients in 2010. Those areas are being addressed in 2011 to the tune of several five-star recruits on offense - including two of the best receivers in the nation. If you think freshmen can't make an impact, just ask Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore.

But I just hope that the problem isn't bigger than a lack of skill players. At times this year I have seriously questioned the play-calling. Like seriously questioned it. And I also fear that Dabo might not be able to shake the bug that Clemson loses close games on a steady basis (four more close losses this year).

I am going to stick by Dabo for the bowl game and hard through the 2011 season. He will be going into his third year next season, and (on paper) should have a team with more to work with. The defense may take a hit, but the offense should be better.

With the optimism of the previous paragraph said, I have to admit I am somewhat worried. Last night's game wasn't close, and that is the first time in a very, very, very long time that has happened. Not just getting worked by South Carolina, but getting worked by anyone. Even with the embrassment of all of the close losses over the last ten years, I have always had pride that nobody blew us out ever. Ever. Everybody we played, we played close. So to see a team - your rival - come into your place and score 29 straight points for a decisive one-sided win, it gets me thinking.

It has been a long, painful season. From the early season loss to Auburn in OT, to the regular season finale loss to USC, 2010 is a year that will not own a spot in the trophy room. Like every college football season, there is the hope of "wait til next year," but right now I'm not even ready for next season. I'm just glad this one, for Clemson, is over. Yeah, I know, some cruddy bowl awaits, but to me, we aren't even deserving of one...

And then there is the ACC. In unison with the troubles of Clemson, the ACC has also seen better times. Yesterday, the ACC went 3-3, with Wake Forest, Florida State and Boston College winning, and Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami losing. FSU's victory was nice, but the 'Canes lost to South Florida and fired Randy Shannon following the game. The circus of ACC football rolls on...

Folks, I'm going to go outside and get some fresh air now. Fans25 is going nowhere and neither am I. But as of right this second - November 28th just before noon - I am in dire need to get away from college football for a few minutes. Another article and my top 25 will be up later this evening, but for a few hours, college football must escape my brain!


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