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THE TAILGATE: A Graphical Preview of Texas A&M vs South Carolina

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COCK-A-DOODLE-DO yourself a favor and scroll on down to THE TAILGATE


HISTORIC FOOTBALL RIVALRY

Football rivalries are majestic. They form over years of hard fought battles and familiarity, disdain, and begrudging respect for one’s foe. It’s sitting at a bar, needling your friend who went to the rival school, because though they might have overall scoreboard, this year your team emerged triumphant. It’s the ability to give your boss the finger when he walks in wearing the shirt of the school you just can’t stand, and he just smiles and pops one back in your direction because football. Rivalries are fun because they’re organic, never manufactured.

Except for this one. I guess it’s fun knowing that you’re getting to look into the ultrasound of what could eventually be born as a true-blue rivalry, but right now it just feels a touch forced. It’s like when your friends REALLY want to set you up with someone, but you’re just not feeling it. “Go out with Janet, she’s awesome,” they say. Then they put you on a group text with her, a girl you’ve never met, trying to force some chemistry. It’s fun for a minute, but everyone knows it’s just because your friends want to play matchmaker, your best interests aren’t at heart here.

I guess the trophy is… well, a trophy. Who doesn’t want to play for a trophy? It’s evidence that you won something! That’s super cool, right? We won the *googles frantically* James Bonham Trophy. Three times. Neat.

Quick note: that’s not a knock on Mr. Bonham who died valiantly at the Alamo, doing Texas a service and his home state of South Carolina proud. Thank you, sir. I just wonder if Mr. Bonham somehow knew he’d be forced into a rivalry just like the two schools playing in it.

If it feels like I’m being flippant about the game, I’m not. I’d love for the Aggies to beat the hell outta South Carolina. The Aggies showed guts last week, coming back from down two touchdowns and a blown call to beat Arkansas in OT. That felt good, right? Well beating the shit out of your “rival” will feel better. Also, is it a rivalry when one team hasn’t won a game yet? Boom. *mic drop*

*Pics mic back up* Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make a Reynolds Aluminum Foil replica of the Bonham Trophy. *gently places mic back on stand because they’re not cheap*

Aggies - 41
Cocks - 28


CAST OF CHARACTERS

The other, other kick returner. With Kirk's 100 yarder fresh in opposing coaches' minds, great chance this week for another guy to bust one. Chriss had that nice 71-yarder that he almost broke earlier in the year.

Pretty nice little Saturday for his first SEC game as a full-time player. With a pair of sacks against Arkansas he's now leading the team, but South Carolina's only giving up 2 per game. INTRIGUE.

Another true freshman playing on the front seven usually makes us nervous, but credit where credit is due: #7 had a couple tackles and a pair of QB hurries against Arkansas. Turn 'em loose, Chief.

With all-everything and awesome name-haver Deebo Samuel out for the season, #89 is going to need to fill some big shoes. Or probably just regular shoes, really. Fast shoes, though. Whatever, just be sure to wear shoes, okay?

The sophomore is already notching over 10 tackles a game. His workload may vary depending on the Aggies' choice of run attack: pounding (Ford), gashing (TW), or nonexistent (first half, ULaLa).

Nailed a 31-yarder with four seconds left to lift the Cocks over the Bulldogs 17-16. The kicker (LOL GETIT?) He was 0-4 on field goals on the year before that. Our advice to become a better Gamecock kicker: brush up on your chicken sounds. And also, kick it to Christian Kirk, it'll be fine.


BUSINESS CLASS

David Sarnoff was known for saying, "competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people." As a pioneer of American radio/television broadcasting, he was quite insightful, and could have no way of knowing how accurately these words would apply to the Sacred Business of College Football Rivalries.

Enter Texas A&M joining the SEC. Good products breed hatred among consumers, ergo the newly-forged rivalry jumped out to a hot start before the first game even kicked off. Yell practice on the statehouse steps. A dynamite upset of a top-10 team in the first ever game on the SEC Network. That's how you build a brand, and this rivalry's been hyper-intense every day since.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I

If Aggies have one super power it's dredging up past slights to relive them, so it's no surprise that we remember that one time that Will Muschamp didn't like College Station. Well, we've had a few years to think about it so now it's time for some witty and timely retorts:

"With 3 head coaches since 2015 it's probably true you won't make the return trip."

"I'm not sayin' the Gamecocks have buyer's remorse, but the other night they drunk dialed Les Miles "

"Shouldn't scoff at College Station, Will. It's probably the closest you'll get back to the head-coach-in-waiting position in Austin."

"You only go once? Guess we should rename the city 'South Carolina Bowl Games.'"

"Guess the same can't be said about switching between coordinator and head coach positions, huh?"

Sorry about that. If these retorts had taken any longer to develop they probably could have been part of your offensive scheme.

DOWN AND OUT

With a sample size of n=1 we can state with absolute certainty that A&M performs best on defense when the opposing team's top WR is out with an injury. Not only is South Carolina missing Deebo Samuel, they are also without starting RT Zack Bailey and LB Bryson Allen-Williams. Fortunately the Aggies are a classy bunch and would never take adva-[listens in earpiece] I regret to inform you that Jake Bentley has already been sacked.

KNOW WHEN TO RUN

Gamecock LB Eldridge Thompson thinks that his defensive squad can make Aggie QB Kellen Mond "fold". When reached for comment Mond responded, "Son, I've made my life out of readin' LBs faces and knowing what the coverage was by the way they held their eyes. So if you don't mind me sayin', I can see you're out of blitzes. If you cheat up your safety you're gonna pay the price."


ELSEWHERE IN THE SEC

#24 MISSISSIPPI STATE @ #13 AUBURN

Arkansas, Kentucky, and LSU are taking a week off from legitimate competition to lick their wounds. So is Florida, although Vanderbilt is a conference game. Ole Miss is just the latest harmless shotgun shell being unloaded into Nick Saban's T1000 as it chases us all.

Mississippi State enjoyed three weeks of snowballing enthusiasm, but cries of "Extend Mullen before he replaces Saban at Alabama!" were cut short by the wet snap of their jaw getting broken off by Georgia last weekend. Time to see if they can rally and compete with Auburn's stifling defense and Bran-Stark-like offense. Fortunately these two teams have a history of this sort of thing.


HOTREELZ


LESS THAN 500 DEGREES OF KEVIN SUMLIN

Did you feel that? That feeling like turning on the car heater full blast while driving through hell? Armani Watts' game-sealing interception was like a blast of balmy but technically cooler air in this furnace. It's still hot enough to sear an armadillo, but it's worth noting that this is the coolest Sumlin's seat has been since the season started - if only technically.

And before everyone gets all Stick Narkel in the comments, please remember that this gauge only measures current temperature and not future post-Alabama nuclear meltdowns. Just enjoy things being slightly less shitty for a minute.


PLACE YOUR BETS


BEST CASE / WORST CASE

BEST CASE

Governor Abbott doesn’t have to remember where he put the Bonham Trophy because it stays in Texas.

WORST CASE

Several gubernatorial interns are about to have a shitty week looking through storage because of a bunch of Cocks.