This was a good win for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Virginia came into town ranked as high as # 12 in one poll, no less than # 15 in most others. The pre-game consensus among many if not most of the talking heads was that Al Groh was a god, and his players - three straight Top 10 classes - were nothing short of a juggernaut advancing into Columbia to pillage and burn. Lou Holtz made everyone believe it.
In the end USC did what they should have done a season ago had Dondrial Pinkins not been unavailable with a broken ankle when Corey Jenkins went on his fumbling binge. In the end USC hushed Cavalier fans ... it is not easy to come into Columbia, South Carolina and win, especially since Lou Holtz's arrival.
Now comes the next test. Not the real test mind you, but the next test. It is not easy to go into Athens, Georgia and win. It never has been.
Cherish the glow of a Sunday after a victory over a ranked opponent. Allow it to linger through Sunday afternoon. Then forget about it. Because by mid afternoon Sunday, sometime around 4:00 P.M. eastern time, the Gamecock coaching staff will have forgotten about the UVA win and they will be fully focused on the UGA Dawgs.
Georgia is a much better football team than Virginia. Consider the weaknesses, the chosen points of attack that the UVA team allowed. Those same kinks in the Cavalier armor will be the strengths Lou Holtz's Gamecocks will be asked to face this coming Saturday in Atlanta.
Break it down:
- UVA - Home Game. UGA - Away Game.
- UVA - Inexperienced QB. UGA - Very Experienced QB.
- UVA - Old & Forgotten ACC Rival. UGA - Old & Intense SEC Border Rival.
- UVA - Average D-Line. UGA - Superior D-Line
- UVA - Below Avg. Passing Game. UGA - Above Avg. Passing Game.
The Gamecock coaches and players know they can beat Georgia at their place this coming weekend as well. Believe us, they know. Just as they know they should have beaten Georgia in Columbia last year. Just as they knew they should have beaten UVA last year and would beat UVA this year. They know. This year is a statement year in the making.
Georgia is not without their own weaknesses - most teams have them. Georgia's are fewer and less apparent than most, less glaring, less noticeable to the naked-untrained eye. And while Georgia is not Virginia, or visa versa, Georgia's weaknesses are not entirely unsusceptible to the Gamecocks' strengths.
Break it down:
- USC's D-Line Vs. UGA's O-Line
- USC's Road Crowd Vs. UGA's Home Crowd
- USC's Linebackers Vs. UGA's Running Game
- USC's Pinkins, Turman, Thomas, Crawford, Irons Vs. UGA ... The Program That Snubbed Them.
- USC's Coaching Staff Vs. UGA's Coaching Staff
Yet it will be the way the Gamecock coaches prepare to counter-compensate for those advantages which Georgia owns that will make the difference. How Carolina overcomes a clear UGA superiority in certain areas - that is what will dictate the Gamecocks' fate in this all-important upcoming battle.
A hint - it will be won or lost in the trenches.
One last thought to leave you with before the Xs and Os writers on this site kick in and take over for the remainder of the week ... a thought that has to do with an over-hyped rivalry that most Clemson fans and some Georgia fans seemed to be clinging to just two weeks ago.
Georgia owns a commanding 41-17-4 all-time record verses Clemson. Yet to hear the Clemson fans in particular tell it, this has been one of the most hotly contested border rivalries in the history of college football. Carolina on the other hand is a pathetic 13-40-2 all time verses the Dawgs. Two records that are not all that dissimilar.
There are major differences.
Georgia has won five in a row over Clemson. You have to go back to 1990 to find the last Clemson victory over the Dawgs. And before that it was 1987 and 86 since Clemson had beaten UGA. As a matter of fact it was between 1977 and 1991, a period that saw UGA face Clemson a total of 13 times in 15 years, that the series was competitive. During that span the series was dead even at 6-6-1. They have played only five times since with Georgia winning all five in a row beginning with the 1991 game. Their most recent a 31-0 shut-out whipping placed on Clemson in CU's very own backyard.
Is that the stuff great rivalries are made of? a tired little sprint of competitive games played more than a decade ago?
Conversely, Georgia and South Carolina have squared-off for the past eleven consecutive years as SEC Eastern Division rivals. This 2003 contest will mark the twelfth consecutive border battle for bragging rights between the Dawgs and the Cocks. And much more modernly, of the last 13 games played between these two teams since 1988, the record between them is 6-7 with Georgia holding a one game lead in a stretch that has seen plenty of close, very close, one touchdown or less ball games - several of which were absolute nail biters.
CBS is calling it a "Classic SEC Showdown," and rightfully so.
Georgia fans would be wise to forget about the Clemson games, their entire series, and to do so in a hurry. The true beast of the Palmetto State is not a well-paid bunch wearing orange these days. Instead it is a mob of Garnet & Black wearing fellow SECers coming down from just up the road in Columbia. I-85 is dark and lonely ... it's I-20 from whence they cometh where the Dawgs should be concerned.
Little do UGA fans know. For one thing that USC fans do know, that one thing that allows Carolina people to look ahead and wonder ... while quickly forgetting about the Virginia game, are the old interviews on this site. The words of the players themselves. Have you read those summer practice interviews lately? A quick reminder.
They were all thinking about Georgia before this season even started.
What does that say? It goes back to the beginning. This past Saturday's win over Virginia was way too easy - yes it was. It was scary easy. Why? Because, believe it or not the Gamecocks beat Virginia like rented mules while they were looking ahead to Georgia. And if anyone is about to overlook this game it is most assuredly not going to be the Gamecocks.
Georgia should be worried. The Virginia win was waaaaaay too easy for the Gamecocks. Now Holtz and crew has turned all of their attention, their intensely focused stare, toward Athens.
This is shaping up to be a very interesting season.