COLUMBIA — Victor Hampton started an otherwise calm South Carolina-Clemson rivalry week with a roar last Saturday. Told that Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney two hours away had just said, “Nobody wants it more than me, I promise you,” the Gamecocks’ chatty cornerback pounced.
“I always feel like it’s a problem if your coach wants to win the game more than your players,” Hampton said, looking ahead to Saturday night’s matchup of No. 6 Clemson and No. 10 South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Of course, Clemson players care. They covet braggin’ rights.
They just haven’t shown it on the field the way the Gamecocks have over four straight double-digit wins.
The Streak is defined by one play: Early fourth quarter last November at Death Valley, South Carolina up 20-17; Clemson’s Andre Ellington ran around the right side for first-down yardage when safety D.J. Swearinger delivered a clean shot that sent Ellington flying.
Swearinger flexed over the fallen running back.
So stupid: The 15-yard taunting penalty gave Clemson a first down at midfield.
So deviously brilliant: The inspired Gamecocks closed with a 27-17 win.
That’s the tenacity Hampton was talking about, and that Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier didn’t want to discuss this week
“We don’t talk too much about that,” Spurrier said. “We just talk about what we have to try to do to win the game, try to make some yards, try to stop them. That’s the only thing we really talk about.”
Partly prodded by Hampton, watch for Clemson to come out very fired up for this one. Maybe too excited.
One Pigskin Picks game back of Warren Peper with 10 picks left, I want braggin’ rights, too:
Clemson at USC
The Gamecocks have been the Palmetto State heavyweight champ for four years. Taking the belt away requires a decisive effort, a tall task at Williams-Brice-Shaw Stadium.
Sapakoff pick: South Carolina, 30-28
Peper pick: South Carolina, 28-22
Georgia at Georgia Tech
Hutson Mason will start at quarterback for Georgia, once a solid candidate to unseat Alabama for the SEC title.
Sapakoff pick: Georgia, 28-24
Peper pick: Georgia, 27-24
Florida State at Florida
Expect empty seats after Georgia Southern’s Swamp Fest last week.
Sapakoff pick: FSU, 38-10
Peper pick: FSU, 34-21
Wake Forest at Vanderbilt
Vandy has taken advantage of the depressed SEC East, and now gets a mediocre Wake Forest team.
Sapakoff pick: Vanderbilt, 35-21
Peper pick: Vanderbilt, 30-17
Duke at North Carolina
A win in Chapel Hill gives Duke a shot at its first ACC title since a Steve Spurrier-coached team won a share of the title in 1989.
Sapakoff pick: North Carolina, 31-28
Peper pick: North Carolina, 24-21
Virginia Tech at Virginia
It says something about the state of college football in the Commonwealth that the Hokies have lost three of the last four but are favored by two touchdowns.
Sapakoff pick: Virginia Tech, 35-14
Peper pick: Virginia Tech, 31-24
Alabama at Auburn
Alabama is more vulnerable to sharp passing attacks than Auburn’s run schemes.
Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 28-13
Peper pick: Auburn, 31-27
Texas A&M at Missouri
Mizzou is good with Maty Mauk at quarterback, better with James Franklin, best with both available for a home game.
Sapakoff pick: Missouri, 34-31
Peper pick: Missouri, 34-21
Ohio State at Michigan
Feeling the overtime upset in Ann Arbor.
Sapakoff pick: Michigan, 34-31
Peper pick: Ohio State, 34-20
UCLA at Southern Cal
If interim head coach Ed “Cookie Monster” Orgeron extends the Trojans’ post-Lane Kiffin record to 7-1, he deserves a contract and free cookies.
Sapakoff pick: Southern Cal, 28-27
Peper pick: Southern Cal, 28-24
Last week: Gene Sapakoff 7-3, Warren Peper 6-4
Season: Peper 93-37, Sapakoff 92-38