Who says it’s just another game? The Clemson-South Carolina game is “The Game” in the state of South Carolina.
Little boys who grow up in the Palmetto State imagine what it would be like to play in this game one day. They grow up either a Tiger or a Gamecock. There is no in between, and when they finally make it to that stage, it’s not just another game.
“My freshman year, and USC fans will probably be happy about this, but on my freshman year, and I think on one of their first kickoffs, I was on kickoff return … it was so loud,” Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware said. “They were doing the towel thing with the song, sand storm. It was super loud.
“I was 18 years old and I was about to crap down my leg it was so loud.”
But it was everything Boulware, a life-long Clemson fan, imagined it would be when he was growing up in nearby Anderson, South Carolina. It was common back then that he and his Carolina friends teased each other and talked about who was better and why.
“One of my best friends growing up is a South Carolina fan and is a senior at South Carolina, and he is still one of my good buddies,” Boulware said. “Definitely as kids, and our families, we definitely trash talk. We are still close to this day.
“It’s all in good fun, but it was definitely probably more heated growing up as kids. We probably got in some fights as little middle schoolers, but it is all in good fun.”
Boulware said he has no problem, as someone who grew up in South Carolina, bringing a little extra juice into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Death Valley, especially since this will be the last time he will get to play South Carolina.
“It’s rivalry week. I think the guys from South Carolina understand that more than others,” Boulware said. “I think the big picture is that it is another game for us, another week of preparation, but I will actually be a little more excited than some guys, but at the end of the day it is another game and that is how a lot of the other guys will look at it.”
That’s why Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is glad he has a senior-leader like Ben Boulware, who has lived and breathed the Clemson-Carolina rivalry, to send the message out that this is not just another game.
“It’s a rivalry game. We have a lot of guys from the state of South Carolina and a lot of guys from the state of Georgia, who move into the state and understand what it’s about,” said Elliott, who played in the Carolina game as a player and went 3-1 against the Gamecocks. “Ben Boulware is going to let them know what this game means to him.
“So, I think just the fact that it’s a rivalry game, there’s a lot on the line, and they understand that. For a while we were on the lower end of this and we’re trying to get if shifted back in our perspective.”