Brent Venables understands why South Carolina fans think their Gamecocks are pumped about playing the role of spoiler when they visit Death Valley this Saturday to take on No. 3 Clemson. However, he also understands that is not what is driving their football team.
“We are trying to put a notch on our season, too. And they are the next team,” Clemson’s defensive coordinator said on Tuesday. “I don’t buy the jargon that they are going to ruin our season. If that is the motivation, then they are thinking the wrong way. That’s not what motivates you to play in this game, and to play the game. At least I don’t buy into that. That’s a bunch of … I don’t believe in that.”
What Venables does believe is South Carolina will come to Death Valley ready to play when the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday on ESPN.
“We are going to get their best shot. They are playing better, and as the season has gone along, they have just gotten better and better. They are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Venables said.
The hate in the Clemson-Carolina rivalry stands on both sides. The game is not any more important to South Carolina than it is Clemson. And in Venables’ mind, no team has more pressure than the other.
With that said, the Tigers (10-1) do stand to lose a whole lot more than the Gamecocks. Clemson is in the middle of the College Football Playoff race and needs a win to stay in it.
South Carolina (6-5) on the other hand is already bowl eligible and though a victory could move the Gamecocks into a better bowl, a loss really doesn’t do much to their postseason plans.
“If they stand for what is right, then this game means everything to them. In a week from now, that next game for us is going to mean everything, too,” Venables said. “This game, for a lot of other people that are not in this football building every day, it might go to an all-time high from an interest and we have to win it, and I get that too. That’s part of the rivalry.
“That’s going on across the country this week and everybody thinks they have the biggest rivalry in college football. I know in this state there is nothing bigger and more important when it comes to all things football.”