South Carolina’s 111th meeting with Clemson will play second fiddle on college football’s stage Saturday, and Steve Spurrier understands that.
The game “is appreciated enough. It’s just not the national game this week,” Spurrier said. “Alabama and Auburn, 11-0, 10-1, all that they have on the line, that game certainly is going to trump our game a bit. We understand that.”
The Gamecocks and Tigers will be meeting for the first time as top-10 opponents, but neither leads its respective division, Spurrier pointed out on Wednesday.
“Even though we have both been very good, we still haven’t been right at the top of what we are trying to do,” Spurrier said. “We get enough attention in-state.”
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Earlier this week, Spurrier publicly wondered why the USC-Clemson game doesn’t have a nickname like the Iron Bowl.
“What do we call our game with Clemson?” Spurrier said. “We don't have a real name for it? That'll give you media guys something to come up with. Maybe we'll find a name for it and get the national guys to come look at us a little bit.”.
Bruce Ellington has made quite a name for himself in the rivalry, catching three touchdowns in two games. He caught the first and last USC scores of the game last year and caught the first USC score two years ago.
“I’m just ready. It’s a big game. We’re playing against Clemson. It’s a rival game, in-state, people want to win,” Ellington said on Wednesday. “We’re just going to go out there and do the same thing we’ve been doing.”
Ellington thinks that the Gamecocks’ rotation of small, quick wide receivers could benefit. USC has also been watching tape of Clemson’s only loss this year.
“We just got to go in there, look at film of what Florida State did against them and learn from that,” he said.
That’ll learn ya
Freshman place-kicker Elliott Fry, from Frisco, Texas, was close to SEC country growing up but didn’t pay much attention to it. He heard “rivalry” and there was only one game to associate the term with – the Red River Rivalry.
“Texas-OU, and Texas-A&M, too, but my dad would always take me to the Texas-OU game,” Fry said on Tuesday. “Where I was, it was Big 12 everything. I hadn’t really stepped into the whole SEC world, yet.”
That changed when Fry decided to accept a walk-on position at USC, over a scholarship offer to kick at Louisiana Tech. Fry, Spurrier recently said, may be placed on scholarship in January as a reward for what’s been a fantastic season.
Part of this season has been learning about the Gamecocks’ biggest rival, and the importance of closing the regular season with a win.
“I had never heard of the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry, until I started looking into South Carolina senior year,” Fry said. “I actually didn’t even know where Clemson was all the way through high school. Hearing everything about the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry, I think it’s a lot bigger.”
Spurrier said on Tuesday that the Gamecocks’ coaching staff isn’t doing too much rah-rah with the team leading up to the game. The team knows what’s happening.
“Our guys know what it is,” Spurrier said. “They know what happened, they know the history of the series. We’re still way behind. But we’ve had a good run, we know that. We’ll hopefully try to play like we’ve been playing the last four.”
Receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said Shamier Jeffery had a strained calf last week, which is why he didn’t play vs. Coastal Carolina. He's expected to return this week.
Players who were in yellow or missed practice Wednesday were: Devin Washington (concussion), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Jordan Diaz (knee). Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState Staff writer Josh Kendall contributed to this report.