The North Carolina Tar Heels and the South Carolina Gamecocks kick off the 2013 College Football season with a game this Thursday, August 29th on ESPN at 6 pm. North Carolina, a state school known for its basketball history, will be traveling to Columbia to face South Carolina, a state school that is consumed with its recent football success and is hungry for more.
Both UNC and USC have enjoyed recent successes on the baseball field as UNC was the top overall seed in the 2013 College World Series and USC won the 2011 and 2012 College World Series. In fact, UNC defeated USC in the Super Regionals this season to advance to the World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. That fact only intensifies this season’s football matchup between the two state schools.
Having lived in various areas in both states, I understand what lies behind this rivalry. Though the teams have not met since 2007 on the gridiron, there remains some animosity between the two states and their football programs. The Tar Heels are simply looking for respect whereas the Gamecocks are simply looking for a win.
Unfortunately, prejudice still exists in the South and this even extends to football programs. There are many in South Carolina who would not consider North Carolina to be a true southern state. These folks would say North Carolina, is let us just say, too far north. Many teams from the traditional SEC consider the states they are in as part of the Deep South. In fact, SEC football has recently become one way southern states identify their heritage and thus separate themselves from the rest of the nation.
On the flip side, many North Carolinians would take offense of a state below them saying they are too far north to be considered a southern state. North Carolinians value their history, education, and progressivism. South Carolina would be considered by many North Carolinians as a state which simply did not keep up with the times.
I can emphatically say that North and South Carolina are both great places to reside in. Both states have a rich tradition in athletics. The ACC is no slouch when it comes to sports history. But we are talking about football in 2013 and that means SEC dominance. Of course, UNC can point back to the history books where they own 34-18-4 series record, but USC can point to their back to back 11 win seasons. Not to mention a Jadeveon Clowney hit against Michigan running back Vincent Smith last year that was named by ESPN as the college football play of the year.
With all that being said, I expect a barnburner of a game. UNC has quite a playmaker of its own in quarterback Bryn Renner. Last year, Bryn completed 65.4% of his passes for 3356 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Those numbers would stack up just fine in the SEC and new UNC Coach Larry Fedora says his team is going into Columbia expecting to win.
Win or lose, both teams will see each other again on September 5, 2015 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Perhaps a neutral site will be the only way to determine which football team reigns supreme.
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