Just like with Alabama, I wrote a rather involved post on last year's South Carolina game that touched on a) how awesome we were in that game (I still think that was sickest spin move I've ever seen), and b) how I don't like Spurrier. Regardless of the outcome of this week's game, those things will still be true. I'm running a bit low on optimism this week, but maybe this is the week that we find an offense and play 60 minutes...on the road...against the team that beat the team that just beat us 41-10. Hmm, perhaps it's more dire than I wanted to admit, but hey, there's a reason they play the games!
It's difficult to reflect on many meaningful moments from a "rivalry" that has only been an annual occurrence since 1992. We're 15-3 against USCe in those 18 meetings and 22-4-2 against the Gamecocks all-time. To put it in perspective, Vanderbilt's winning percentage against UT (.262) is almost twice as good as South Carolina's (.143). Historically, we own these guys. But there is the not insignificant matter of Spurrier, who in all likelihood will get the Gamecocks to .500 against the Vols under his reign. Blah, the last thing I need is another team in the SEC I have to worry about us losing to on a regular basis.
And off we go into the games...The bad: I don't have much to say here. 75% of the losses to SCarolina have happened in my lifetime, but none are particularly poignant. One loss happened when I was 6, and the other two have come in years that the Vols didn't go bowling.
I would probably pick 2005 as the most painful experience with the Gamecocks. We probably should've seen the writing on the wall at 3-3 with losses to our 3 main rivals, but none of the losses had been blowouts and we were still ranked at the fringe of the top 25. I'm sure most of us expected an uptick as we hit the softer part of our schedule. Getting a 4-3 South Carolina team at home should have been the perfect way to kick off our November surge. Somebody didn't get the memo.
An uneven first half saw the Vols up 12-7 before a fumbled punt gave the Vols the ball deep in South Carolina territory near the end of the half. On 3rd and 1 from the 11, Arian Foster surged up the middle and carried the ball effortlessly for 10.999998 yards before having an anaphylactic reaction to the goal line and fumbling at the .000002 yard line. Fair or not, Foster will always be remembered for these ill-timed fumbles. However, the Vols lost this game because of complete and utter ineptitude at quarterback. Ainge was 9-21 for 65 yards while Clausen was 5-11 for 34 yards and an interception that set up USCe's first score. By the time South Carolina hit the game-winning 50-yard FG, it was perhaps finally clear that the 2005 team was no good.
Honorable mentions: Well...there are only 2 other instances and they both got coaches fired. You suck, Gamecocks.
The good: Again, I don't have a whole lot to say here (though I've been reminded that my uncle was born during the 1965 South Carolina game and my grandfather missed the birth to be at the game...perhaps obsessive fandom is genetic). There are neither tales of great wins as a plucky underdog nor hard-fought victories in games with championship implications. There were some fun finishes, though, so I guess I'll go with one of those.
I only remember 2 things from the 2003 game: Demetris Summers ran all over us for the whole game and James Banks caught the winning TD in OT in the North end zone. In 2007, I was attending a friend's dance performance and missed almost the entire game. I tried to surreptitiously update scores on my phone, and was as surprised to see the Vols go up 21-0 as I was to see them fall behind 24-21. I was spared the heart attack of seeing Wilhoit's miss-make and got back to my dorm room just in time to see us win in OT by succeeding where USC had failed (making a field goal).
And that's really all there is to say. I guess going back to an earlier point, if we were to win this year against a heavily-favored South Carolina team, that would be fun/memorable. SO GO WIN!!! No need to wait for Rommel, guys, that's an order!
Honorable mentions: 2000 (Cheese scored with 26 seconds left as we won 17-14), 2001 (we had a dominating 4th quarter drive to win 17-10)
What do you all remember about playing the Gamecocks? Share your memories below!