Tales From The Cockpit: Bowling

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It’s official, the 2016 South Carolina Gamecocks football season has been a success.

Cue the cry-laughing emoji’s and snarky comments from the rival fans, but it’s the truth.  The Gamecocks have won 6-games and are going to a bowl game…therefore this season has been a success.

It really doesn’t even matter what happens in Death Valley this weekend to be honest.  This could be a 2003 level blowout and I would still believe that Will Muschamp’s first season as head ball coach at South Carolina was a complete and total success.

Look at it realistically.

The Gamecocks finished 2015 with an abysmal 3-9 record, they lost to the Citadel, lost their legendary coach mid-season and watched their in-state rival play for a national championship.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.

But it did.

South Carolina then opened the 2016 season 2-4 with a loss to Kentucky and an offense that couldn’t score more than 20-points.  The silver lining, that I pointed out weekly, was that the defense was playing far above their talent level, but a bowl birth didn’t seem possible with the schedule the Gamecocks faced down the stretch.

Then came Jake Bentley.

Once again, I was wrong about playing Bentley this year and never would have guessed that he alone would make the difference that he has and taken Carolina from the brink of back-to-back embarrassing seasons to a bowl birth…but he did.  Bentley is 4-1 since taking over for the Gamecocks and turned the season around with a huge win over division rival Tennessee in just his second collegiate start.

So here we are, the Gamecocks are 6-5 and heading up to Clemson with a chance to play spoiler with the Palmetto State Championship is on the line.  The fans have been going at it on social media all week long…but for some reason I’m overly excited for this game.

Of course this game holds weight when it comes to state pride and trash talk for the 364 days that follow it…but in the end, it doesn’t matter.  Not this year.  This year it was all about the bounce-back season.  Overcoming a 2-4 start, earning a bowl birth and finding the future.  That’s more than I could have hoped for.

Again, before you jump down my throat, I would LOVE to see South Carolina pull the improbably upset and earn the bragging rights tomorrow evening…but if (when) they don’t, it shouldn’t hurt one bit.

What this team was able to pull off this season with the diminished level of talent left behind for the new coaching staff was incredible and all of the credit goes to Will Muschamp.

This Gamecocks team is young and has shown that they are not only buying in to Muschamp’s plan, but have the ability to win with that plan.  Now we have hope and see a legitimate future.

Palmetto Bowl Prediction:

  • Clemson 42- Gamecocks 27
    • Carolina has played up and down to their competition all season long, but has not played a team as good as Clemson.  The first good defense SC faced since Bentley took over was Florida and they did not fare too well offensively in that game.  Clemson’s defense is better than Florida’s and unlike the Gators, the Tigers play offense pretty well too.  I want to be wrong, I really do, but I have to look at this realistically.  The Gamecocks only score 20.4 points per game while Clemson only surrenders 17.9 a game.  The Tigers also average 38.5 points per game.  Yes, the Gamecocks defense has played above their talent level all season long, but has not played an offense with the level of talent that Clemson brings to Death Valley tomorrow night.

Muschamp has without a doubt turned this program around already and I cannot wait to see where this goes.  Win or lose tomorrow, I believe in Coach Boom and the future of this program.

Forever to thee!

-Ditti

Find me on Twitter (@Ditti33), Facebook (/ditti33) and Instagram (dittius33). 

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