Josh Kendall

Let’s make USC-UCF ‘Take A Kid To Their First Football Game Day’

gmelendez@thestate.com

Saturday is officially Take A Kid To Their First Football Game Day in Columbia, sponsored by the 2015 South Carolina Gamecocks and UCF Knights.

South Carolina and UCF will meet at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday. The atmosphere isn’t expected to be electric.

In 2013, these two teams met in Orlando, Fla. They were on their way to a combined 23-3 record.

South Carolina, which won the game 28-25, finished No. 4 in the nation. The Knights finished No. 10. Two years later, they’ll meet with a combined record of 1-5. Their fans are in a neck-and-neck race for the title of Most Morose in the NCAA, and I haven’t heard one person say, “I can’t wait for this game.”

Saturday is “Parent’s Weekend” at the university, which will fill some of the seats, but there still are 3,000 left unsold and many more in danger of being unused.

I’m mainly writing here for the folks who already have their tickets in hand. You might need another week to gather yourself after Saturday’s discouraging 52-20 loss to Georgia. Or you could still be reeling from the 26-22 loss to Kentucky before that.

I get that, but if you’ve got no plans to use your tickets, don’t burn them or throw darts at them or mail them back in some shake-your-fist protest of how far back the Gamecocks cornerbacks play from the line of scrimmage.

Go see if the neighbor kids want to go, call your church and see if the youth group wants them, call the YMCA or the Epworth Children’s Home. Put a kid in that seat. It’s a noon game, so the timing is perfect. If you’ve been waiting for a chance to take your kid to a game, this is the time.

Kids don’t care that:

... South Carolina’s defense is giving up 7.3 yards per play, which is the most in the SEC and ranks No. 124 in the nation.

... UCF’s offense is averaging 3.7 yards per play, which is dead last in the American Athletic Conference and the nation.

... That both teams are struggling at quarterback due to injury and inefficiency.

... That Brandon McIlwain might be in a batting cage at this very moment.

I can remember my first college football game. It was 1987 and Georgia was playing Oregon State. Rodney Hampton and Lars Tate were in the Georgia backfield. The Bulldogs won 41-7, had 32 first downs (which still stands as a school record) and would finish 9-3 that year. The Beavers were bad, finishing 2-9.

I didn’t remember any of that without a couple of Internet searches. All I remember is it was enormous and it was amazing.

Buy your kids a cheap ticket. Or give somebody else’s kids your tickets. Fill the place with kids going to their first football game and let’s make the best of it.

Fair warning: There’s a 70 percent chance of rain Saturday. Only so much silver lining to go around I suppose.

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