Gamecock win does not fit with prognostications

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When Clemson dethroned Nick Saban and Alabama in last year’s National Championship instant classic, it sent a shot heard around the college football world.

Clemson’s defense, Dabo Swinney, Deshaun Watson and Hunter Renfrow out-gutted what is said to be college football’s greatest powerhouse.

But not only did Clemson’s feat bolster the Tigers’ stature, it catapulted the reputation of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

On top of the Tigers’ heroics- slaying the wicked wizard of Tuscaloosa- the ACC’s 2016 bowl record was 8-3. That was better than any other college football conference.

Fast forward to 2017 and South Carolina versus NC State in the Belk College Kickoff game in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, Saturday.

Never in the pre-game hype had the youthful Gamecocks been favored to defeat the Wolfpack. In fact, NC State versus USC represented a part of the new order in the college football hierarchy. No longer was it a given that an SEC team – with a similar previous-season record- would be the big, bad wolf.

And it’s not like the Gamecocks caught the Wolfpack off guard.

”I definitely feel as confident as I’ve felt about our depth,” said North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren, before the two teams met.

”This is what we’ve been building,” said NC State senior Jaylen Samuels. ”This is what everybody has been waiting for.”

With all the hype- and ESPN – the college football bible- touting the Wolfpack, USC went out and got brutal with the senior-based opponent.

The result: Gamecocks win 35-28. And analysts who were sure South Carolina was not ready, were left scratching their heads. Some rushed to attack Doren.

In an SBNation column by Steven Muma entitled “In his latest search for credibility, Dave Doeren is still wanting” Muma writes: “That’s Dave Doeren’s NC State program, and shame on me and the rest of us for feeling like it might be different this time, that Dave could both learn from his mistakes and implement their remedies. This is clearly not the case.”

But are all the experts missing the point?

Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp said, after the win, he has a “good football team.”

In an industry that so easily reaps unwarranted praise, is it so hard to believe that USC is just better than NC State?

If so, the chatter and opinions, regarding the state of the Gamecock program, are going to be challenged.

And if ESPN has proven one thing- even as it loses millions of dollars- its pharisees do not admit error.

With that said- South Carolina – the guys tapped as “the team that cannot” – has been installed as a 4.5 underdog at Missouri, on Saturday.

If the Gamecocks lose, the powers-that-be, who direct the conversation, will be comforted. But a USC win may just set their hair on fire again, like the Gamecocks’ win over NC State did.

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