You would think playing a noon game at Williams-Brice Stadium might be the time the Clemson Tigers would like to play their bitter rival, if they had a choice. However, that is not the case.
Though the home of the South Carolina Gamecocks is a much more hostile atmosphere at night, Clemson prefers to play there at night.
“Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Yeah! I am happy the game is at 7:30. I happy,” linebacker James Skalski said.
“The last time we played there was the noon game. Coach [Dabo] Swinney jokes about it. We got the mild version of the atmosphere kind of because noon games are just different. You want the night games,” Skalski said.
Skalski says he and the Tigers welcome the bad language offered their way in night games. They welcome the Coke bottles, batteries or whatever it is being thrown at them. They welcome “Sandstorm” being played and the little white handkerchiefs being waved in the air.
“As hostile as you can get, we want it that way,” Skalski said. “That is the most enjoyable. That is what it is all about. That is what college football is about. You do not want just half the people there and it is quiet. You want as much energy as possible. You feed off of that as a player. You want that.”
Skalski and the rest of the Tigers are going to get it. Though there are still some tickets available for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. kick on the SEC Network, South Carolina officials are expecting more than 80,000 fans at Williams-Brice.
“If you are going to be great, you have to love hostility. You have to love it,” the Clemson linebacker said. “I love playing at other places where the fans are into it. It is good going to NC State. I love playing over there because they have a great atmosphere, and the fans are right at your back. Or going to Louisville. You can hear them chirping the whole time. So, I love going on the road. I think it is a lot of fun.”
Skalski hopes the Tigers (8-3) can have as much fun in Columbia as they did the last time they played a night game at Williams-Brice – a 34-10 victory in 2017. Despite the fact the Tigers have won the last three meetings between the two rivals in Columbia, Skalski ranks USC’s home field with some of the best road environments he has played in.
“Oh, it is up there. It’s up there. At that place, they are throwing whatever they can at you. They got the (Sandstorm) playing and the towel swinging, so it is a great place to go play,” he said. “They do a great job over there creating a great environment.”
And Clemson has always done a great job of winning there. Since 1977 – the year of “The Catch” – the Tigers are 16-6 at Williams-Brice Stadium. By the way, Clemson is 7-3 in night games at Williams-Brice.
Now you understand why the Tigers like playing night games there.
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