Running back Rickey Anderson was two years old when The Citadel last played South Carolina in football. So the details of the Bulldogs' 38-35 upset of the Gamecocks in 1990 are not exactly fresh in his memory.
"I've talked to a lot of the guys on that team, and they talk about how special it was to go to Williams-Brice Stadium and win," said Anderson, a fifth-year senior at The Citadel. "So we're going to try to have a story like that to tell."
As fond as Citadel alumni are of recalling the details of that 1990 game -- Jack Douglas and Everette Sands both rushed for more than 100 yards,
and Douglas scored the winning touchdown with 22 seconds left -- Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins will employ more recent reference points as he prepares his players for No. 14 South Carolina on Saturday.
"To me, 1990 feels like five years ago," Higgins said Monday at his weekly news conference. "But to these guys ... I think it's more like, 'Did you see what Wofford did to Clemson this year? We can do the same kind of thing, give them the same kind of problems. Did you see what the Naval Academy did against South Carolina?'
"So for us, it will be more Navy and Wofford, with all due respect to our alums, than going back to 1990."
Running a triple-option offense similar to The Citadel's, Wofford rushed for 272 yards and gave Clemson all it wanted in a 35-27 loss earlier this season. And Navy's option gave USC fits on Sept. 17, as the Midshipmen ran for 274 yards in a 24-21 loss at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The Navy film will be of particular interest to Citadel coaches as they try to figure out how to get a first down against USC's star-studded defense, led by former Citadel head coach Ellis Johnson.
"The athletes they have up front are just incredible," Higgins said. "One play against Navy, Jadeveon Clowney took the dive and the quarterback at the same time, because his wingspan is incredible. They have an amazing group of athletes, and Ellis Johnson has done a great job with this defense."
One reason The Citadel went to the triple option last year was to help it cope with talent deficits like it will face against USC. If the Bulldogs execute, they won't always have to block the 6-6, 254-pound Clowney or 6-2, 276-pound Melvin Ingram, or 6-7, 260-pound Devin Taylor.
"That's the idea of the option," Higgins said. "If the other team has outstanding tackles or ends, you can read one and pitch off the other -- hopefully."
On offense, Higgins expects USC coach Steve Spurrier to use this game as a chance to work on the Gamecocks' passing attack, which has been lackluster this season.
"My gut says that this will be an ideal time for Coach Spurrier to get his passing attack going," Higgins said. "In order for them to beat Clemson and win a big bowl game, they will have to be able to do that. And I think (USC quarterback) Connor Shaw is at point where he's ready to do that.
"They've been kind of tight with him because they are trying to win games. But I would think this would be a great time, especially early in the game, for them to air it out and try to get it down the field."
Despite a 4-6 mark and two straight losses by a total of seven points, the Bulldogs are eager for this final test.
"To me, it's special," said senior linebacker Tolu Akindele. "I wasn't recruited by a lot of schools, so you to get to go against the guys they said were better than you. You get to find out if you are as good as you think you are. Sometimes you come up on the short end, but sometimes you come up with something big."