Saturday, September 24, 2011

GAMECOCK NEWS: 5 Games This Saturday That Can Keep USC Rollin' to a National Title

An economist’s application of game theory would suggest that your success is not solely determined by your next successful move. Rather, it’s the result of the strategy and counter-moves of not only your direct competition but also everyone and everything within your market/ecosystem.

Ummm—Why the hell are we talking about economics?

Trust me, I’d rather be doing the normal weekend football routine (bombing Jim Beam shots, guzzling cheap beer, and misbehaving at my tailgate) than thinking about the application of game theory to college football. Unfortunately, because of the way NCAA Football and the BCS system work, we all have to do both routines this Saturday.

You see, a simple win by the Gamecocks is not enough to move the needle the way we, Gamecock Nation, want it to. Remember what happened that one time (as in last weekend) that USC played against a tough, triple-option Navy team? We won.

Remember the Gamecock’s AP ranking before the game and then after the game? We were ranked No. 10 and then, as sure as hell is hot and Clemson fans are obnoxious, we were all of a sudden ranked 12th. Such is life. But, when life gives you lemons, you take those lemons and build a world-dominating citrus rocket. (Actual weapon...citrus rocket LAUNCHER sold separately)

So, without further ado, here are the five games and necessary outcomes this Saturday that will take the Gamecocks from over-ranked and falling to under-ranked and rising.

Game 1: No. 14 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide

Assuming this Saturday produces a win for the Gamecocks, this 3:30 pm Arkansas game will be the most important game to watch.
We need the Razorbacks to whip up some pig sooie and bust out an unexpected W.

ESPN gave Tyler Wilson a rating of ‘Questionable’ with his 23-of-36 passes for 303 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception this year.
Those aren’t quite Ryan Mallett numbers. And, with the spread in double-digits and the game being played in Bryant-Denny stadium, I’m not quite optimistic.

But, this is college football. Anything can happen, and since “God is smiling on the Gamecocks” per Steve Spurrier, that anything might just be the Crimson Tide getting rolled for an upset at home.

Why South Carolina Needs Arkansas to Win: At the beginning of the year, I predicted that the Gamecocks would win every game except the away game at Arkansas. Regardless of whether or not that happens, we want the Razorbacks to be as highly ranked as possible when we play them.

With back-to-back wins against two top-five teams (see ‘Game 4’ Section), the Razorbacks will be in the top five right about the time that Cockabus rolls into Fayetteville.

A win in that scenario would be massive and a loss would mean little (and would actually mean nothing if we avenged the loss in Atlanta).

Game 2: No. 11 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 21 Clemson "Kittens"

Ok, so I hate Clemson just as much as the next guy.

I hate their fans, culture, academics, geographic location, athletics, and anything else Clemson that I forgot to mention. Oh yeah, their colors. Their colors are stupid, too.

However, this weekend I’ll be pulling hard for my in-state rivals to beat the Seminoles.
I want Florida State to suffer as revenge for them beating us last year, but that has little to do with why I’m pulling for Clemson. This Saturday isn’t about what we want. It’s about what we need.

Why South Carolina Needs Clemson to Win: Using the same logic as our need for Arkansas to win, we want Clemson to be highly ranked and on their way to the ACC Championship game when we obliterate them (that’ll be three years in a row now, but who’s counting).

Third time is a charm, especially when it boosts your team into the top five, and that’s exactly what our three-peat against Clemson will do.

Game 3:  No. 15 Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Ok, so this one is a long shot. But, we’ve got to root for the Wildcats here and hope they can pull off a crazy stunt with home-field advantage. I’m not sure when the last time was that they’ve been able to pull off an upset like that, however.

Oh wait, are we talking about Kentucky? Are those the guys that crushed South Carolina (ranked No. 11 at the time) in the second half of the game last year to pull off the upset? Yup, those are the ones. I just hope they can do it again, but this time against the Gators.

Why South Carolina Needs Kentucky to Win: An at-home loss for Kentucky would catapult the Gators, who the polls would favor any day over the Gamecocks, from No. 15 to a ranking higher than Carolina. That’s fine. That’s actually good. We want them ranked high when we play them.

However, the Gators are looking better and better with each game and they’re now favored to win the East. A Florida loss would give South Carolina some much-needed breathing room in our race for the division crown.

Game 4:  No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 8 Texas A&M

Back to the whole want vs. need "thing"—this game is more of a want.

I want Marcus Lattimore to win the Heisman trophy. But, if there’s anyone who can break the non wide-receiver trend in the Heisman race, it’s Justin Blackmon.

The dude has skills, and he does for his team catching the ball what Marcus does for our team running the ball. I think that’s what the Heisman is all about, and so if Oklahoma State can run the table, our No. 21 might leave New York City empty-handed.

Why South Carolina Needs Texas A&M to Win: This is conjecturing some 10 moves ahead, but USC needs Texas A&M to win just because it will boost Arkansas to a top-five ranking (assuming the win this Saturday against Alabama and assuming they actually beat A&M) for when we play them on the road. Simple as that. I know it’s a stretch, but we still need (and want) it to happen.

Game 5:  Vanderbilt Commodores vs. No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks

Let’s end with the most obvious game:ours.

The Commodores are going to strut their high SAT-scoring selves into good ol’ Billy Brice stadium this Saturday at 7:00 pm, and what happens after that will be the only thing that the Gamecocks actually have control over this weekend.

I’m not going to go into how we can beat the Commodores, because my favorite Gamecock writer, Alex Roberts, already schooled us on that earlier this week (here).
I’ll just say that this team scares me, and they’re talented enough for all of Gamecock Nation to be a little nervous.

However, Vanderbilt scares me in a different way than do East Carolina, or Georgia, or Navy, or any other team we play for that matter. Why? Do you know what the only thing worse than getting beat at home is? Getting beat by a bunch of nerds, that’s what.

Now, these particular nerds can beat just about anyone they put their smarty pants little minds to.
But, they’re nerds nonetheless. You think my intro to this slide-show was dorky? Just listen to anyone from their team in their post-loss interview Saturday night. It’s actually pretty impressive.

Why South Carolina needs South Carolina to win: This question is dumb and the answer is obvious, so I’m not going to answer it.

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