If you're a Gamecock fan, welcome to uncharted territory. You've never seen a period in your team's history where South Carolina has beaten Clemson five years in a row.
If you're Tiger fan, welcome to uncharted territory. You've never seen a period in your team's history where Clemson has lost to South Carolina five years in a row.
In the 111th meeting of the two teams in the annual Battle of the Palmetto State, South Carolina used the same approach they have been using against Clemson for the past five victories: strong defense and clock control.
The Gamecocks held on to the ball for 38:09 and generated six turnovers on Clemson's offense -- coach Steve Spurrier couldn't have scripted it much better.
"Wonderful win for our guys," said Spurrier. "I started thinking, amazingly when we play these guys from Clemson, the script follows the same thing."
The turnovers started early for Clemson. On their first drive, a trick play went badly wrong when quarterback Tajh Boyd threw to junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins behind the line of scrimmage. Instead of running to pick up a potential first down, Watkins tosses the ball deep into the South Carolina endzone, where it was picked off by Brison Williams at the 1-yard line.
Two other turnovers came from missed opportunities from the Tigers' special teams unit. Boyd was picked off another two times in the waning moments of the game.
Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said the defensive unit's job was pretty apparent while they watched game film on Clemson.
"We know that we can get to him, contain him, and add pressure," said Clowney. "Once we hit him a few times, he starts getting the jitters a little bit and starts throwing crazy balls. That's what he did tonight. We got the interceptions off those, and it worked out in our favor."
Clemson's senior QB will now leave his collegiate career behind with two touchdowns, five turnovers, and no victories in the annual meeting of the teams.
"We just shot ourselves in the foot," said Boyd. "We had opportunities and did not take advantage of them. We are playing a top 10 team, and every year we have lost the turnover margin. Ultimately, I think that sums up the story every year."
On the flip side, Gamecocks senior quarterback Connor Shaw will finish his career at Williams-Brice with a 17-0 home record and two victories over Clemson.
"It's just special, man," said Shaw. "Special to me, special to the players, the seniors, the program. This is why we came to South Carolina and to finish out the seniors not losing to them is huge."
Spurrier, who is not shy about criticizing his quarterbacks, couldn't find any fault with Shaw's play.
"Connor Shaw? Best quarterback in school history," said Spurrier. "He's probably the difference maker for us. Running the ball and throwing the ball he had a successful game."
Even Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn't mince words about his respect for Shaw.
"Connor Shaw played tremendous, just tremendous," said Swinney. "What a great football player he is. I have all the respect in the world for Connor Shaw. He's a great runner. There's a reason why they're undefeated at home and why he has never lost a game here at home."
With the paint finally drying on this fifth victory and no SEC East title to crow about, South Carolina is now at the mercy of bowl selection committees when it comes to where and who they'll play next.
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