CLEMSON - It's here.
The week which captivates the entire state has finally arrived, and for Clemson it may have come just in time. With emotions running amuck following an unthinkable loss to Duke last Saturday, having South Carolina looming on the horizon would seem to be just the thing to bring the Tigers' focus front and center.
At least that's what head coach Tommy Bowden hopes. He's seen his team suffer hangover from a loss already this season.
This isn't the week for it to happen again.
"We talked to them about Georgia Tech (and the loss to Texas A&M the next week), and we've experienced that once," Bowden said. "I'm hoping we learned from it. There were a lot of emotions in the locker room after the game Saturday. And I would imagine they (USC) are in a similar situation, (getting beat) in the Swamp on national television.
"We both spent a lot of energy during the game and after the game."
Bowden said he didn't see the hangover heading into Texas A&M coming until it was too late - only after the game was underway. He cited dropped passes, missed assignments and missed tackles as the final evidence, proof his team wasn't mentally into the game.
The one good thing in this scenario, he said, is that it's South Carolina up next on the schedule.
"That gets their attention," he said.
Asked if coaching in this rivalry for five years has given him a better appreciation of what it means to both sides, Bowden said it didn't take that long.
"You don't appreciate it really until you lose it," he said. "You have to carry that with you all year long. I've been on both sides, winning and losing this game, so I know what it feels like. I've run the full cycle. You appreciate it more when you lose because you live with it."
Linebacker Leroy Hill practiced Monday with a protective wrap on his hand. He is expected to be ready for Saturday.