With the 2019 Palmetto Bowl just over a week away, The Tiger and The Daily Gamecock exchanged questions and responses regarding the mindset of their respective universities ahead of the big game. Ryan Donahue (R) represented The Tiger and Cam Adams (C) represented The Daily Gamecock.
The Daily Gamecock’s questions for the Tiger
C: Heading into the bye week, what's the mood/general feeling about this year's Palmetto Bowl for students at Clemson? Does South Carolina's losing season diminish the rivalry any this season?
R: I would say the general mood heading into this year's Palmetto Bowl is that of excitement. Regardless of who else is on the schedule, Clemson players and students always have the game against South Carolina circled on their calendars. While a top 10 matchup would have likely generated more buzz, it's hard to say that Palmetto Bowl's significance has been diminished because of South Carolina's losing season.
C: A lot of fans across the country are downgrading the Tigers because of their strength of schedule and it's a real possibility Clemson may not have a top-25 win heading into the postseason. Do you believe this will have a negative impact on Clemson getting a higher seed in the playoff and having to settle for a No. 3 or 4 seed?
R: I don't believe that the Tigers will suffer if they have to settle for a 3 or 4 seed. In years past, seeding in the College Football Playoff has not played a major role in determining the champion. In fact, I think Clemson prefers to be in the No. 2-4 spots. Dabo Swinney has leveraged Clemson's ranking as motivation for the Tigers all season long, even going so far as to bring back the "ROY bus". As long as the Tigers are in the playoff, they'll be right where they want to be.
C: A lot of fans that have grown up in the Palmetto State take this rivalry very seriously. As a student at Clemson, how much does this rivalry mean to you?
R: To me, this rivalry means quite a lot. I know that every season, Clemson recognizes beating South Carolina as a season objective right up on the list with winning the ACC Championship and making it to the College Football Playoff. I think for myself, I see the South Carolina game the same way. If we don't beat South Carolina, the season is a failure. Clemson fans take as much pride in the fact that they've beaten Carolina five times in a row as they take in the fact that they've won two out of the last three National Championships.
C: South Carolina has already beaten a playoff-caliber team in then-No. 3 Georgia earlier this season. Do you believe the same could happen to Clemson?
R: Absolutely, South Carolina can beat Clemson. Do I think that they will? No. But is it out of the question? Certainly not. If I've learned anything about College Football it's that anything can happen on any given Saturday. Being that the Gamecocks have nothing left to play for except spoiling the Tigers' season, they will come at Clemson with all that they've got. If the Tigers come out flat at Williams-Brice, the Gamecocks are talented enough to win the game. They proved that they have that ability against Georgia. With that being said, I expect Swinney to have the Tigers ready. If the Tigers match the motivation and energy of the Gamecocks, I don't think Clemson can be beaten.
The Tiger’s questions for The Daily Gamecock
R: With South Carolina already eliminated from bowl eligibility, how much is riding on the Clemson game for South Carolina fans? Would a win over Clemson deem the season a success?
C: With the Gamecocks eliminated from postseason play, I believe many Gamecock fans are viewing this game as their "bowl." Although the Palmetto Bowl is always intense no matter either teams' record, I believe this year's game holds a little bit more weight with the Gamecocks having nothing to lose, and a chance to ruin their rival's chances at a College Football Playoff berth. Although a win over the Tigers would be huge for South Carolina, I'm not sure that win over Clemson would deem the season a success. However, I do believe that it would vastly improve the football program's image for this season.
R: How do South Carolina students feel about their chances heading into the Palmetto Bowl? Do they remain hopeful, or are many expecting defeat?
C: I've got to be honest, there's not many students that are optimistic about this year's Palmetto Bowl due to the fact that the Gamecocks have lost two straight and are unable to contend for a bowl game. Despite this, I do believe that there is a bit of hope as many students are still excited to take on another playoff-caliber team and hoping for another upset like South Carolina had against then-No. 3 Georgia earlier this season.
R: What are students' thoughts and feelings toward the rivalry with Clemson? Is the rivalry as strong as years past given the state of the two programs?
C: Although the two football programs are on different levels with Clemson competing for a national title and South Carolina struggling to make a bowl game this season, I believe the rivalry has not died down at all. No matter what sport whether it be football, soccer or even club ice hockey, the stands in Columbia are always full with energized fans looking for another win over "that team from the upstate."
R: Do South Carolina students ever find themselves rooting for Clemson in the College Football Playoff or in any other game? Is there any pride in seeing a South Carolina school have success, or does the rivalry make students root against Clemson at all costs?
C: No matter the occasion, you can always count on most South Carolina students rooting for whoever is playing the Tigers. Although you may see students here pulling for other teams in the state like Coastal Carolina in baseball or Wofford when they went to the NCAA men's basketball tournament last season, it is hard find a South Carolina student pulling for Clemson, even if the Tigers are representing the Palmetto State.