COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -Steve Spurrier likes his teams to finish strong.
It counts even more with South Carolina fans, who end just about every season against in-state rival Clemson.
``It's always helpful to win your last game. It's always helpful. For whatever reason, people remember the last game you play a lot more than maybe you played five weeks, four weeks earlier,'' Spurrier said.
There haven't been a lot of good season-ending memories at South Carolina recently. Spurrier has lost two of three to the Tigers. The Gamecocks have lost nine of their last 11, and are 10-26-1 against Clemson since winning three in a row from 1968-70.
Spurrier's Clemson losses have lingered.
The Gamecocks followed the 2005 loss with an Independence Bowl defeat that soured a five-game Southeastern Conference win streak that included victories over Tennessee and Florida. In 2007, a loss to Clemson capped a five-game losing streak that kept South Carolina out of a bowl.
igers have other consequences, too. Fans hang their heads and have to hear from Clemson friends and co-workers for another year. One of the most quoted accomplishments of Tommy Bowden, fired by Clemson this year, was his 7-2 record against the Gamecocks. And the rivalry game also affects recruiting, Spurrier said, citing his only win in the series in 2006.
``We had our best recruiting year after winning our last three that year,'' Spurrier said. ``And certainly if we're fortunate enough to win our last two this year, it would really help.''
The defeats also appear to have had a subtle effect on Spurrier's outlook on the rivalry. When he arrived at South Carolina, he had all the ``Beat Clemson'' signs removed from the locker room. But when the Gamecocks won in 2006, he offered a game ball to the fans, then gave his blessing to the sale of footballs commemorating the win.
And this season?
``It's the biggest game of the year for us,'' Spurrier said. ``I always said your in-state rival game is your biggest game of the year unless you're playing for the conference championship. We're not doing that so, hey, it's the biggest game of the year.''
n could be a soothing balm to a a tough season, while a loss could send the program into more disarray.
But Spurrier said he isn't worried about that.
``We're just going to try to win the game,'' he said. ``We've got enough to worry about. To play the best we can - that's what we need to worry about.''
Swinney, who said the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is similar to the Alabama-Auburn rivalry he grew up with, thinks the Tigers have dominated because they have usually been the better team, with a national championship, more bowl wins and more Top 25 finishes.
He also thinks the Gamecocks could be catching up.
``They've really improved their program. Coach Spurrier's done a tremendous job,'' Swinney said. ``They've won seven games this year already. There's been times that has been a struggle for them, just from a program standpoint over the years. Not any more. They're battling and competing with everybody.''
South Carolina players are familiar with the one-sidedness of the rivalry too, said senior linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who doesn't want to leave school with a losing record to Clemson.
ir year.
``Once I got here and played that '06 year we went down to Death Valley and won, I understood the rivalry then. I understood the passion,'' Brinkley said. ``I'm like the fans now. I want to beat Clemson every year.''
Advertisement

NCAAF Headlines

More inNCAAF News  

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Cal vs. Hawaii College Football Pick California and Hawaii kick off the 2016 college football season from Sydney, Australia tonight. Will the Rainbow Warriors cover as huge...
Thumbnail Cal, Hawaii can put up points Will tonight’s College Football Kickoff between Hawaiiand Californiaprovided plenty of offensive fireworks? Here’s our take on the total.
Thumbnail Bettors backing Cal vs. Hawaii Despite the majority of public bettors backing California for Friday’s college football kickoff contest, the line has moved in favor of Hawaii.
Thumbnail Clemson Season Win Total Prediction   Few would argue that the best player in college football resides in Death Valley. After narrowly missing out on the ultimate prize this past January, will...
Thumbnail Western Kentucky Season Win Total Prediction In Conference USA country, one school’s offensive attack stands a cut above the rest. We’re talking about a crew so brilliant that even video-game...
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages