Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Big Game

In his entire career at the University of Tennessee, you could count the times that All-Pro Quarterback Peyton Manning was held to under 200 yards passing on one hand.

Two of those games just happened to come against the University of South Carolina, back in the era when future NFL defensive backs like Arturo Freeman and Lee Wiggins roamed the Gamecock secondary.

And while South Carolina never managed to translate its ability to contain Manning into a "W" during his four years on Rocky Top, last year in Knoxville the Gamecocks finally broke through against Tennessee, beating the Volunteers for the first time in over a decade.

Saturday night, eighth-ranked Tennessee (6-1) comes to Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia looking for its revenge in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Can Carolina (5-2) pull out a win against its nemesis in this pivotal SEC East showdown?


The Gamecock offense, which got off to a horrendous start, finally seems to have the right personnel on the field.

Most notably, senior quarterback Syvelle Newton has emerged as its undisputed leader - a multi-threat playmaker who has hit his stride running Spurrier's evolving offense and developed a potent chemistry with All-America wideout Sidney Rice. Running back Cory Boyd has also eclipsed the 100-yard mark in his last two games, which says as much about Boyd's abilities as it does about the improved performance of the Gamecocks' offensive line.

Defensively, Carolina has played well enough to win every game it has suited up for this season and boasts one of the fastest, hardest-hitting units in the SEC. Anchored by the Brinkley twins (Casper and Jasper) and veteran defensive back Fred Bennett, the Gamecock defense ranks fourth in the SEC (and second against the pass).

But can Carolina withstand the intensity of the Volunteer's offensive onslaught, which has improved by leaps and bounds this season with the return of legendary Offensive Coordinator David Cutcliffe?

After a disastrous 2005 campaign, Tennessee has returned to form under Cutcliffe and ranks second in the SEC this season in total offense.

Even more impressive, the Tennessee offense is at its best when it matters most, leading the conference in third-down conversions and scoring in the red zone. Only twice in 26 tries have the Volunteers gotten inside their opponents' 20-yard line and not walked away with points - including an SEC-leading 18 touchdowns.

That could spell trouble for a Gamecock defense that has built its success on a "bend, don't break" philosophy.

Saturday's game has huge implications.

For Tennessee, it's a "payback" game as well as a chance to keep its slim national title hopes alive. For the Gamecocks, it's a chance to become bowl-eligible, crack the AP Top 25 and prove that last year's upset win in Knoxville wasn't a fluke.

FITS will be following all the action live at Williams-Brice Saturday, but don't forget to tune into ESPN if you can't get your hands on some tickets.


Anonymous Tim said...

I hate all orange teams, and "Rocky Top" is a sucky song.

2:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What NCAA Football web site did you plagerize this from Sic Willie?

Nice Try.

3:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rocky Top was rated the number one fight song in college football, as was UT's stadium. If you dont like the song oh well, you will hear it over fifty times this weekend. TN 28, USC 10.

5:51 PM

Anonymous Alex said...

Faith in the Sound--the new sports and politics.

Great article. Its amazing how much people hate you though. I guess is because you are a freehinking conservative.

7:50 PM

Anonymous ALEX said...

and they attack you and they cant even spell PLAGIARIZE

7:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's the chick Sic Willie?

8:10 PM

Anonymous Drew said...

Nice rack Wil, who did your implants? Wanna ride in my Porsche?

9:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

no comments about the clemson loss...

11:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Clemson loss? You mean the Clemson beatdown? Face it, Clemson fans, you had that false sense of manhood stripped.

Forget getting help to get back into the ACC title game. Let's just hope nobody else figures out that if you put 8 in the box, Clemson's QB doesn't have the cojones to win it himself.

1:27 PM

Anonymous west_rhino said...

hmmm, did Clemson show up in Blacksburg?

1:52 PM


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