USC fans swearing by longtime superstitions as LSU game looms

COLUMBIA -- Ellie, a 4-month-old cockapoo, will wear a Gamecock dog-jersey during the University of South Carolina's game against the LSU Tigers on Saturday.

But she doesn't wear it because it looks cute, said her owners, Amanda Alpert and John Loveday of West Columbia.

The engaged couple won't let Ellie take it off because she's worn it every game day, and the Gamecocks are so far undefeated.

Alpert and Loveday are superstitious. And they're not going to mess with a winning streak.

Many other Gamecock fans follow meticulous game-day rituals to help the team win.

Columbia resident Cynda Hurley loves her "Cock-Head, Cock-Tail" T-shirt.

She's worn it during every Gamecock football game since she bought it for $10 from a Williams-Brice Stadium parking lot vendor in 1989.

"I only wear it on game day," Hurley said. "It sets me apart, I guess. Whether I'm at home watching the game or listening on the radio, even if I don't go to the game, I still wear it."

Charlotte resident and USC alumnus Russ Simons will not allow anything orange in his home.

His anti-orange rule dates back to the Gamecocks' infamous defeat at the hands of Navy in 1984.

"We were watching the Carolina-Navy game, and Carolina was undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country, and (we) were the favorite for that game," Simons said. "There's no way we should've lost, but they lost because I happened to be drinking an Orange Crush that day.

"I cursed the Gamecocks by drinking an Orange Crush."

While he will allow orange juice and tangerines in his house, no other orange items are allowed.

The only thing that could change his mind? When USC wins a national championship.

Gaston resident Jennifer Hrovat has her own game-day superstition she not only lives by but enforces for other Gamecock fans in her vicinity.

Hrovat won't make a phone call during a game, ever since she made a call during USC's loss to Auburn last year.

"The phone is hidden and turned off," she said. "It killed me during the Georgia game because I was watching the game at work and wanted to call my husband at home because they were playing excellent football.

"Even if we lose against LSU, I still won't call because I don't want to take the chance."

Ellie the cockapoo's owners Alpert and Loveday chose the breed of their dog specifically because it had "cock" in the name as a homage to their beloved Gamecocks.

Alpert said Ellie is a funny sight in her USC shirt.

"She's learned to take it off, but we won't let her," Alpert said. "She wears it for the whole game until the end, and she hates it. But when we forgot to put it on her for the first two plays vs. S.C. State, there was a sack and an interception, so it proved our point."

The fanatical USC fans are getting married in March at Rutledge Chapel on the USC Horseshoe and are hoping to have their reception at Williams-Brice Stadium's The Zone.

Alpert has already solidified an appearance by Cocky, USC's official mascot, for their reception.

And with their T-shirt superstition, the couple want Ellie to appear with Cocky on their wedding day in her new jersey, for good luck.