COLUMBIA, S.C. - For the first time in history, the South Carolina Gamecocks played the South Carolina State Bulldogs last Saturday at William Brice Stadium, drawing a sellout crowd.
It indeed was a historic time - especially for the Bulldogs and their many fans, who had waited so long to have an opportunity to play the Gamecocks. The schools had never before played each other. And in the 100 year history of South Carolina State, located in Orangeburg, the Bulldogs had never played before such a large crowd. The attendance was 73,095.
When all had been said and done on the football field, it was the Gamecocks prevailing 38-3. And although the Bulldogs had at least three opportunities to get into the end zone, the Gamecocks' defensive unit kept them out.
By halftime, the Gamecocks had established a 17-3 lead and never looked back en route to their third victory of the season - coming just a week after upsetting the then No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs 16-12 in Athens.
On Sunday, the Gamecocks received some of the best news they have received in several years - being ranked No. 14 in the latest USA Today top 25 College Football Poll. Ironically, South Carolina's biggest instate rivalry, Clemson, comes in behind them at No. 15.
One of the big reasons the Gamecocks find themselves undefeated after three games this season is the awesome play of their defensive unit, including two of the players hailing from Thomson High School - Jasper and Casper Brinkley.
The twin brothers played on the last THS Bulldog football team to win a state football championship back in 2002. And since they've been at South Carolina, having transferred there from a junior college, the mere mention of the word defense seems to bring up the names of the Brinkley twins.
Such certainly was the case when South Carolina hosted S.C. State.
Jasper and Casper both played with the same kind of intensity they have played all season.
In the third quarter, Jasper intercepted a ball he had jumped up to knock down at the line of scrimmage - ending a serious threat that had been mounted by the S.C. State Bulldogs. A week before, Jasper made a key interception of a ball thrown late in the game against Georgia, which helped seal one of South Carolina's biggest wins in years.
Casper also has played a big role in South Carolina becoming as successful as they have been on the gridiron this season. The brothers finished the game with four tackles each.
It has become the norm to hear the names, Jasper and Casper Brinkley numerous times over public address systems at home and on the road. It's just as common to hear their names being mentioned by radio play-by-play announcers.
Take the Georgia game. Larry Munson, considered one of the greatest college football announcers in the country, mentioned their names several times. In fact, if you didn't know they played for South Carolina, you would have thought they played for Georgia.
And in fact, the Bulldogs had a chance to pick up the pair. They declined.
Fortunately for South Carolina, the Gamecocks weren't about to pass on the opportunity to lure the Brinkley twins.
Ever since, it's been a seemingly perfect match.
And before the season is over, the Brinkley twins are bound to get better and attract even more attention.
Some of that attention will no doubt be drawn this Saturday when the Gamecocks play the No. 2 LSU Tigers. An upset win surely would place the Gamecocks into the top 10 poll.