Fun with Schedules

"I wish one of the sportswriters, when they start picking everybody's record this year, would write how they'd do if Clemson played South Carolina's schedule and South Carolina played Clemson's schedule," Steve Spurrier tells the Charlotte Observer. Okay coach, in this story, you get your wish.

The argument is somewhat ridiculous to begin with, but suppose, just suppose, instate rivals Clemson and South Carolina could switch schedules this season.

Just for this season.

Clemson would be moved into the SEC East and South Carolina would make the move to the ACC's Atlantic Division.

Each team would also take on the other team's non-conference schedule.

To begin with, and keeping in mind the current state of affairs at South Carolina, (lost last five games in 2007, poor run defense and questions at quarterback) let's examine what each potential point spread would look like for the Gamecocks playing against Clemson's 2008 schedule:

Here is one's man guess at what those projected point spreads would be:

vs. Alabama (Crimson Tide by 3) - both teams faded down the stretch last year and both were battling for a berth in the Independence Bowl. Alabama won that battle and won their bowl game over Colorado. The Crimson Tide also gets the slight edge to open the season in the Georgia Dome as well.

The Citadel (Gamecocks by 24) - don't remind South Carolina fans about the last time these two teams faced off in Williams-Brice Stadium in 1990. Ouch.

N.C. State (Gamecocks by 12) - Hey, this matchup actually takes place in the first week of the season. Currently, South Carolina is listed as a 12-point favorite over Tom O'Brien and N.C. State so we'll go with that.

S.C. State (Gamecocks by 28) - A cake walk. No question. South Carolina won this game last year by 30+ points and there's no reason to think it wouldn't happen again, especially playing in Williams-Brice.

Maryland (Gamecocks by 8) - Maryland is a bit of mystery with a new offensive coordinator, but the Terps arguably have the best offensive line in the conference. Still, S.C. is the clear favorite playing at home in what probably would be a low-scoring affair.

at Wake Forest (Deacs by 4) - Ah yes. A Thursday night matchup with Jim Grobe and Demon Deacons in the house of horrors that is Groves Stadium. Good luck defending Riley Skinner, Josh Adams and company ... you'll need it.

Georgia Tech (Gamecocks by 10) - The Yellow Jackets are the biggest mystery in the ACC with a new coaching staff, new offense and basically an entirely new team. The defense is sound but too many questions exist at the present moment to even think about Tech winning in Columbia.

at Boston College (Eagles by 2) - A physical defensive front and playing Chestnut Hill, Mass. makes the difference here. The Eagles get the slight edge in what would likely be another defensive slugfest. First team to 17 points - wins.

at Florida State (Seminoles by 7) - Year two under Jimbo Fisher and playing in what traditionally is one of the most hostile environments in all of college football makes the 'Noles a touchdown favorite at home.

Duke (Gamecocks by 23) - Home games against Duke brings up painful memories, like an unlikely tie in Columbia in 1991. Still, The Blue Devils are no match for the Gamecocks on this day.

at Virginia (Even) - South Carolina has fared well against the Cavs in recent meetings, but what about in late November on the road? The slightest edge goes to the Gamecocks, but truthfully this one could go either way.

If you went strictly by the point spread, South Carolina would end its first 11 games at 6-4-1.

Now, by comparison let's see what projected point spreads would be for the Tigers against South Carolina's 2008 schedule:

N.C. State (Tigers by 17) - Hey, Clemson won by 20+ points in Carter-Finley Stadium last year. Do you really think this one will be close? Not unless Tom O'Brien can get Philip Rivers an extra year of eligibility.

at Vanderbilt (Tigers by 9) - Sure, the Tigers have had their fair share of slip-ups through the years in games like this, but playing in week two, Clemson is a big favorite and likely wins by 10 points or so.

Georgia (Dawgs by 3) - What an early season matchup this would be. Cullen Harper vs. Matthew Stafford. Mark Richt is a perfect 2-0 against the Tigers, including a nail-biter at Sanford Stadium and a blowout in Death Valley in the last meeting between the schools in 2003. Georgia is the favorite here, but what a game between two old rivals this would be.

Wofford (Tigers by 30) - The Terriers put a huge scare into South Carolina two years ago, but it won't happen against the Tigers in his make-believe scenario.

UAB (Tigers by 23) - Another snore fest. UAB isn't as bad as you think, but playing at home the Blazers are nothing more than another notch on the belt.

at Ole Miss (Tigers by 11) - It would be a tricky game in Oxford for sure, but in year one under Houston Nutt, is this game truly a cause for concern? Perhaps, but the Tigers still get the win and would be double-digit favorites.

at Kentucky (Tigers by 6) - The Wildcats were picked fifth in the SEC East Division and the last time these two played each other saw Kentucky pull out a surprisingly easy 28-20 win in the Music City Bowl two years ago.

LSU (Tigers by 3) - LSU, the defending national championship gets the slight nod despite the fact so many starters from last year's team moving onto the National Football League. This spread may not hold up through the rigors of the season, but right now you'd have to give the edge to the Bayou Bengals.

Tennessee (Tigers by 8) - Don't think for one second the Vols would be favored in early November travelling to Death Valley. This isn't the same team that won a National Championship 10 years ago when Phil Fulmer was signing any player from the Palmetto state he wanted. Clemson rolls.

Arkansas (Tigers by 15) - The Razorbacks are breaking in a new head coach, have no Felix Jones, no Darren McFadden and no chance of winning in Clemson.

at Florida (Gators by 8) - Playing in the Swamp is no easy task. Playing against one of the most explosive offenses in the country, led by a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback makes it even harder. This would be the only game on Clemson's schedule where the Tigers would be more than three-point underdog ... and even that's debatable.

Again, because are playing make-believe, let's assume that all the point spreads hold true. Keep in mind we are giving Les Miles and LSU the benefit of the doubt playing on the road and losing many of its key players from a year ago, Clemson would still finish its first 11 games at 8-3.

That leaves the final matchup between the two schools in the last week of the season.

Considering the Tigers are playing at home, have dominated the series regardless of location, and are the more talented team with more explosive weapons on offense and a similar defense, we'll go with Clemson favored by nine points for the season finale.

Again staying in our make-believe world where the favored team wins, that puts Clemson's record at the end of the year at 9-3 and South Carolina's at 6-5-1.

Sure, Clemson could slip up at Kentucky or at Ole Miss. It seems to happen every year. At the same time, the Tigers haven't lost a game as an underdog in almost three years. And sure South Carolina could sneak up on Boston College or Florida State, even with both games on the road. But then again the Gamecocks almost lost at North Carolina and did lose to Vanderbilt last season.

Confused yet?

The main point that is lost in this exercise is that regardless of schedule, it comes down to talent. End of story.

From top to bottom, Clemson is still the more talented team than South Carolina. If the both teams from the upcoming year were able to play each other's schedules 100 times, Clemson would finish with a better record than South Carolina more times than not because of that single fact.

Clemson has better quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. We'll give South Carolina the edge on the offensive line considering four of five starters return and just one true starter returns for the Tigers.

Defensively, until South Carolina proves it can stop the run (and having Brinkley back at 100 percent will help), Clemson gets the edge up front. South Carolina has the edge at linebacker and the two team's defensive backfields are both pretty good so we'll call that a tie.

Clemson is substantially more explosive in the return game while the Gamecocks are more consistent at kicker.

Clemson has been and remains the more talented team. The disparity in talent is debatable but the end results are not. Rearrange the schedules all you want, it comes down to talent.

But still, that was kind of fun none the less, wasn't it? Top Stories