Who needs it more?

In less than a week, the battle for the Palmetto State will take place in Death Valley when South Carolina and Clemson meets up. As is the case every year, both teams want to win and both fan bases shudder at the thought of dealing with the other fan base for the next 52 weeks. Who needs it more?

When South Carolina and Clemson meet for the 110th time in Death Valley Saturday night, it could be the biggest game in the history of the series for several reasons. Both teams are ranked in the top 12 in the BCS and Clemson still has an outside shot of earning a BCS Bowl bid. Both teams desperately want to beat their rivals every season, but which team needs it more?

South Carolina's season was deflated several weeks ago when they were officially eliminated from winning the SEC East. Crowd sizes plummeted for the final three home games and the feeling was that a season that begun with such promise following a 35-7 beatdown of Georgia was a lost cause just two weeks later. However, a win over the Tigers in Clemson would certainly erase the two painful losses the Gamecocks suffered at LSU and Florida in consecutive weeks and send Carolina into bowl season looking for its second straight 11-win season.

Carolina will enter the game with an extra chip on their shoulder of disrespect from the nation in recent weeks. After a 38-35 win over Tennessee to end the two-game losing streak, Carolina moved up to eighth in the BCS standings and had a shot to earn a BCS bid if things fell their way. While Carolina took care of business on their end, other teams did not cooperate. After its 38-20 win over Arkansas, Carolina dropped in the BCS due to Texas A&M's win over Alabama. The Aggies moved to eighth and Carolina fell to ninth. After Saturday's 24-7 win over Wofford, the Gamecocks dropped to 12th in the BCS as Stanford, Florida State, and Clemson all jumped them. Though any hopes of a BCS berth are gone, a win over Clemson will earn Carolina some respect they feel they deserve and move Carolina back into the top 10 in the BCS standings and a second consecutive 10-win season.

On the other sideline, Clemson is 10-1 and still has a slim hopes of earning a BCS bid with a win over Carolina. While Clemson moved up to 11th in the BCS standings, they are still battling the naysayers that say they have not beaten a good team all season. They have four wins over teams above .500, including wins over Duke, NC State, and Georgia Tech who are all just 6-5. Their biggest win to date could be its win over an 8-3 Ball State team that has losses to Kent State and Northern Illinois. The six wins over teams under .500 are a combined 22-44 including a 36-29 win in the season opener against a 3-8 Auburn team that has fewer wins against SEC opponents than Clemson has. The argument can be made that Clemson has only played one opponent anywhere near the caliber of South Carolina, and that was Florida State, who gave Clemson their only loss in a 49-37 win. While Carolina needs a win to earn respect from the polls, Clemson needs a win to prove that they are a legit top 10 team.

The biggest factor into determining who needs the win more is recent history in the series. South Carolina has won the last three meetings by a wide margin, outscoring Clemson 97-37 in the process. Carolina is riding its first three-game winning streak over its rival since 1968-70 and no Clemson senior class has gone winless against the Gamecocks since 1951-54. Clemson is on the verge of its greatest season since they won the National Championship and brings in a 13-game winning streak in Death Valley. The last Clemson home loss was its 29-7 loss the last time these two teams met in the upstate.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney upped the ante last December when he went on an orchestrated rant about South Carolina prior to his team's match-up with Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship. He claimed that USC was in California, that Carolina was in Chapel Hill, and the university in the state of South Carolina was Clemson. His comments came off as a legendary quote among Clemson faithful and to Carolina faithful the silly rant of a coach that was just 1-3 against the team he blasted.

While both teams certainly need this win, it is clear that Clemson is the one that just has to get it. A fourth consecutive win by Carolina will firmly turn the rivalry in the corner of the Gamecocks. South Carolina no longer hopes or thinks they can beat Clemson, they know they can beat Clemson. That is a far cry from how it used to be even four years ago. Add in the fact that Clemson fans will have to watch Carolina celebrate Steve Spurrier's school record-breaking win on their field, Clemson HAS to win this game.

The pressure is on.


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