G&G: A tale of two Tigers

Who says women don't know football? Ronda Templeton's 'Gridiron & Grits' is a sports blog with a distinctly female — and Southern — flavor. She's a die-hard fan of the Gamecocks who's learned a lot over the years. Example: 'There's a reason the tailgate comes before the game. It keeps a loss from spoiling the party.'

Well, peeps, as my friend John says, "It's time for our second season."

Now that we've secured the SEC East, it's on to battle two sets of Tigers: our cross state-rival and dastardly nemesis, Clemson, and the team from Auburn (where the fans are somewhat dysfunctional and can't decide whether they're Tigers or War Eagles).

We've got a turnaround in attitude going on amongst Clemson and Carolina fans this season. Usually, Gamecock loyalists are pleading with the Football Gods for mercy, hanging our tattered pride on a win in the annual rivalry game. In a refreshing twist, Clemson's season has been the most troubled, and their fans want to recoup some pride by knocking the wind out of our bound-for-Atlanta sails.

All I can say is that the Gamecocks who spurred the tar out of Florida and Troy better be the Gamecocks who show up in Death Valley on Saturday. My cousin Chess, a Clemson graduate (there's one in every family), couldn't make the game. I snapped up his season ticket, which is located smack-dab in the center of the orange and purple sea. I plan to be a beacon of hope and goodness in my garnet and black. No matter what the outcome, I will hold my head high.

Seriously, though: Spurrier & Co., please do me a favor and kick some Tiger tail. The ride back to Rock Hill, S.C. with my orange-clad aunt and uncle will be really long if we let this one get away from us. And, you know, a 9-3 regular-season finish sounds good, doesn't it? After all, for us, it's rarefied air: We're going for nine or more wins for only the third time in school history.

Speaking of seasons, a lot of people are saying this year has been our best ever. I mean, who would have predicted in early August that we'd beat Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida? Or that we'd avoid the usual November meltdown – I call it the Chicken Slide – that usually befalls us?

Still, as delightfully surprising as this season has been, I have to say that 1984 remains our best, as well as our most heartbreaking. That was the year we experienced the highs of "Black Magic" and the lows of our darkest hour, going 9-0 before losing to an unranked Navy team and ultimately ending the regular season at 10-1.

Good things lie ahead for Gamecock fans, though. A win against Clemson and a victory over Auburn – and, make no mistake, both are possible – would leave us in a state of unmatched euphoria.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let's be grateful for the season we've had and the promise of better things ahead, not only in the next two weeks but next season, too. Yes, indeed, it's a great time to be a Gamecock.



Who says women don't know football? Ronda Templeton's 'Gridiron & Grits' is a sports blog with a distinctly female — and Southern — flavor. She's a die-hard fan of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks who's learned a lot over the years. Example: 'There's a reason the tailgate comes before the game. It keeps a loss from spoiling the party.'

For more of Ronda's work check out the rest of her blog entries here.

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