Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Snapping the streak: Clemson-S. Carolina
By Heather Dinich
Time to move on in our look at recent streaks in some of the biggest ACC rivalries. The vote on this one should be interesting …
Up today: Clemson vs. South Carolina
The series: Clemson leads 65-42-4.
Last meeting: Nov. 30, 2013: South Carolina 31, Clemson 17. The game was tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, but Clemson couldn’t overcome a ghastly six turnovers -- three fumbles and three interceptions. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw a pair of interceptions in the final four minutes.
The streak: South Carolina has won five straight over Clemson. It was the first time in the series that Clemson had lost five consecutive games to their rival in a series that began in 1896. With the loss, Boyd finished his career 0-for-4 against the Gamecocks.
The skinny: Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney have both taken their respective programs to new levels, but Spurrier has further distanced his program from the Tigers with the head-to-head results. Regardless of Clemson’s national ranking, the team always seems to come unraveled during rivalry week with a turnover-prone performance. Spurrier has had three straight 11-win seasons, and the Gamecocks should again be one of the top teams in the SEC East. Clemson should mirror that role in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, but has to contend with defending national champs Florida State. Last year, Clemson earned an impressive win against Georgia -- an accomplishment South Carolina failed to do. In the end, though, the loss to South Carolina lingered with Clemson fans more than the win over Georgia. Until Swinney starts to turn the tables on the school’s biggest rival, his résumé in Death Valley will be incomplete by Clemson standards.
The prediction: South Carolina wins six in a row. Ouch. If Clemson couldn’t beat South Carolina WITH Sammy Watkins and Boyd, why should we give them the benefit of the doubt without their record-setting quarterback, leading receiver and leading rusher? Clemson’s defense is going to be its strength this year, and one would think that by the time November rolls around, the offense will look like a seasoned group and have closed the gap. It’s not like South Carolina doesn’t have questions of its own, having to rebuild the defensive line and secondary. Key playmakers Connor Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Bruce Ellington have all moved on. The difference is that South Carolina has continued to win in spite of previous losses like that. Clemson has more to prove.