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March 3, 2011

Weekend Preview

Five times they met last year. Still we are left wanting more. Each year when South Carolina and Clemson meet, the stands are packed, the teams are ranked high, and the Palmetto State notices.

Last season I was fortunate enough to see all five meetings - in four different venues. The first game featured low-30 degree temperatures in Clemson. There was a standing room only crowd willing to freeze to see these rivals.

The next day fans were lined up at 6:30 AM in Greenville for the chance to buy a couple hundred standing room only tickets. Played in Fluor Field, over 7,000 fans saw the Gamecocks even the series.

The rubber game in Carolina Stadium featured another large crowd that saw Clemson pound the home team to take the weekend series.

The teams met again in Omaha for the College World Series bracket final. We profiled the rivalry as the Gamecocks beat Clemson twice on their way to the National title.

Back on that cold night in Clemson, both teams were dreaming of a rematch in Rosenblatt. While both clubs were good, the odds are against two rivals meeting again in the CWS.

In this most compelling of early season matchups, this rivalry may have reached a new level for fan interest based on 2010. If last year was a sell-out, this year the fire marshal needs to leave the state.


There are other intriguing matchups this weekend - including two other SEC-ACC tussles. Florida hosts Miami while Florida State visits Georgia.

The Gators dropped their first game Tuesday falling to Florida State. They get back on the diamond against another rival. For Miami, it is a chance for their young club to knock off the team that ended their season a year ago.

Florida State is sizzling and will get a chance to score some high profile wins at Georgia. The Bulldogs are struggling to score. They need to take advantage of their home surroundings since they are facing a stretch of eight different opponents in eight different stadiums.

Georgia will play FSU on Sunday, then at Mercer March 8, vs. Alabama in Lawrenceville (Coolray Field) on March 9, at UCLA March 11, at USC March 12, vs. Saint Mary's (Dodger Stadium) on March 13, at Kennesaw State ton March 16, at South Carolina on March 18.

Other series to watch include Tulane at Ole Miss, Pepperdine at East Carolina, Louisiana at Southern Miss, Rutgers at Georgia Tech, Kent State at Louisville, and St. John's at Georgia Southern.

The top tournament is in Houston where the Houston College Classic is back for another edition. This year's field has Kentucky and Utah joining Baylor, Texas A&M, Houston, and Rice.

In Charleston, the College of Charleston welcomes former skipper John Pawlowski and his Auburn team along with Western Kentucky and New York Tech.

In Starkville, Mississippi State hosts Georgia State and Iowa in a double round robin.

The Dairy Queen Classic moved from the damaged Metrodome to Tucson. This year's field includes Minnesota, South Alabama, Oklahoma State, and Washington State.

We also see the start of conference play in the Atlantic Sun, Southland, SoCon, and Colonial.


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