The conference slates are finished. Saturday's tuneups against smaller in-state schools are in the books.
For the University of South Carolina and Clemson University football teams, it's almost time for the game.
Or rather, The Game.
As I'm certain you are abundantly aware, the Tigers and Gamecocks will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The game has long been sold out, but that hasn't stopped fans of both teams from scheming, bargaining and outright begging friends or family members for an extra seat.
You could always try the secondary ticket brokers, but be prepared to take out a second mortgage on your home. As of late Friday afternoon, tickets to the Clemson-South Carolina game for sale on StubHub.com ranged from a low of $109 to a high of $7,000. You read that correctly: $7,000.
So, if you've got a spare 7 grand lying around, you could buy yourself a used car, get a new set of very nice furniture for your living room, pay for a large chunk of a semester of college at Lander University ... or buy a ticket to the South Carolina-Clemson game from some yahoo on StubHub.
Of course, you don't have to spend anything close to that amount of cash to watch the Palmetto State's biggest rivalry game, as it will broadcast on ESPN2. There are benefits to watching the game at home, of course. The popcorn and drinks are cheaper, you can control the temperature and, unless you live in a house full of girls, there isn't a line for the bathroom.
Plus, when you are watching the game at home on TV, you can stomp, throw the remote, pace around the room and take part in all kinds of weird superstitious rituals, like wearing your "good luck" feather boa and rain galoshes.
While I can certainly understand why some folks like to watch the rivalry game from the comfort of their couch (with their lucky rain galoshes on), there's no way you're keeping me away from Williams-Brice next Saturday night. I'll be there, God willing, and I promise you I'll be at full throttle by 7 p.m..
And why not? This is one of the biggest games in the history of this long rivalry, if not the biggest.
WHILE FIERCE WITHIN THE PALMETTO STATE, the rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson has never been considered one of the great rivalries on the national stage. There are several reasons for this.
For one, Clemson has a decided advantage in the rivalry, as the Tigers lead the series 65-41. (There have been four ties between the two teams). Of course, coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks have won the last four games in the series, which has spiced up the rivalry quite a bit.
I think another reason the Clemson-South Carolina game hasn't traditionally been a national rivalry is because we don't have a cool trophy for the winner. The winner of the Clemson-South Carolina game gets to keep the Hardee's Trophy.
Yes, the Hardee's Trophy. As in Hardee's, the hamburger joint. I guess White Castle opted out.
Now, as much as I love those commercials with Paris Hilton writhing around in a bikini on the hood of a car eating a Thickburger, I'm afraid the Hardee's Trophy doesn't quite pass muster (or mustard, in this case.)
I mean, for goodness sake, the trophy for the rivalry game between Wisconsin and Minnesota is Paul Bunyan's Axe. It's literally a giant axe.
If two carpetbagging teams such as Wisconsin and Minnesota can play for Paul Bunyan's Axe, surely South Carolina and Clemson can get a cooler trophy.
Perhaps a golden Palmetto tree. Or a scaled-down replica of the Statehouse dome. Or a framed oil painting of the Lizard Man.
Despite the lack of a famous trophy, this year's game will have plenty of rivalry heat. The Tigers are 10-1. The Gamecocks are 9-2. Both squads are highly ranked and lauded by local, state and national pundits.
The teams and coaches? They don't seem to like each other.
The fans? Well, we get along OK ... 364 days a year. It's that one day that's a problem.
Alas, only one team can take home the coveted Hardee's Trophy.
See, wouldn't "Alas, only one team can take home the coveted Lizard Man Oil Painting" sound a lot cooler?
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.