One of the most delightfully-bizarre college football games of the past decade occurred during the landfall of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. As college football betting sites scrambled to adjust live odds in almost unheard-of conditions, Notre Dame and North Carolina State struggled to adjust to playing ball in a tropical depression, with buckets of rain turning the field into a lake.
It would become known as the “Hurricane Bowl,” and it reminded me of the legend of the “Snow Bowl” between Michigan and Ohio State in 1951, in which conditions were so bad that teams started punting on 1st down. Ironically, the Snow Bowl was won on a blocked punt.
Coaches Brian Kelly and Dave Doeren could not bring themselves to utilize such tactics when coaching in Matthew’s spin cycle. Each continued to call passing plays, ending comically in fumbles, sacks or splashes. Finally, a 4th-down Irish punt attempt was blocked, and the Wolfpack dealt Notre Dame its 4th agonizing loss of the season.
As #2 ranked Clemson prepares to host Georgia Southern in an out-of-conference Week 3 match-up, Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Carolinas. Clemson officials have moved the kickoff to noon instead of 3:30 PM on Saturday. Are they expecting a repeat of the Hurricane Bowl?
Probably not. Clemson is far enough inland – and the storm is moving slowly enough across the Atlantic – that the weather is likely to be more dark than devastating…at least on Saturday afternoon. But with much of their state and campus in an uproar over the impending calamity, could the favorites – who are giving away dozens of points in the spread – have just enough weather-related trouble to help the visitors keep things respectable?
Who: Georgia Southern Eagles at Clemson Tigers
When: Saturday, September 15th, Noon EST
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Lines: GaSo (+33.5) at Clemson (-33.5) / O/U Total: (47)
Weather forecasts are still predicting “showers,” though to my untrained eye a mid-Friday landfall of a storm this big will bring one heck of a “shower,” even as far west as Clemson.
Wind and rain aren’t the only thing Florence could be bringing to the Carolinas. From a blog of world meteorology experts at UK Express:
Venomous snakes typically resident in South Carolina’s wetlands may be displaced by the storm, driving them into populated areas, according to local zoo officials.
Thad Bowman, public relations director at Alligator Adventure zoo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, warned that heavy flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence’s landfall will likely occur along the state’s waterways, where snakes are typically found.
He noted that heavy deluges could destroy snake habitats, flushing the venomous creatures into affected urban neighbourhoods.
Horry County in South Carolina is home to numerous venomous snakes, including the cottonmouth and copperhead species. Gerald O’Malley, professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at Grand Stand Medical Centre in Myrtle Beach, warned that these snakes pose a serious risk to humans.
He said: “They inject venom, which causes tissue destruction and platelet loss, which causes bleeding and can cause death.”
The only snakes-in-the-grass that the Georgia Southern Eagles are likely worried about are in the Clemson front-7, a dominant unit that has been called “almost NFL caliber” by more pundits than you can count. Junior defensive end Clelin Ferrell had 2 sacks for the Tigers in last weekend’s 28-26 win over Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, QB Kelly Bryant has improved his work in the read-option and will help Clemson stay ahead of the sticks in the ground game, despite not being as explosive as his predecessor Deshaun Watson. Few athletes are.
Clemson is not facing a patsy. Georgia Southern’s 34-13 win over Massachusetts last week was the work of a formerly-proud program rehabbing its trademark identity as a power-running team. The Eagles attempted only 9 passes, 6 of which were completed by QB Shai Werts. But those 6 passes were good for 150+ yards and 2 touchdowns while GaSo racked up about 350 on the ground.
Again, to my untrained eye it appears that Florence might be settled over Carolina by early Saturday and ready to dump inches of rain on the field. It likely won’t be another “Hurricane Bowl,” but the weather overlook on Oddsshark has already been amended to include a double-digit mph prevailing wind.
Clemson will win the game unless conditions get so bad that it’s cancelled or turned into a freak contest in which the windy downpour evens things out. If you have a mind that the deluge is coming, a tiny moneyline wager on Georgia Southern would pay off to the tune of 70/1.
But GaSo-to-cover and the under (47) are each stronger picks. There should be just enough distractions (including a changed kickoff time, gloomy field conditions and a nervous crowd) to hamper the Tiger offense and keep Dabo Swinney focused on small-balling a win instead of running-up the score.
Pollsters are forgiving of modest victories in bad conditions, and Dabo also knows that a quick 2nd half filled with running plays will help students, fans and faculty get out of Death Valley and to their homes faster.