Palmetto Bowl: Clemson-South Carolina series key plays and players

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Deshaun Watson playing on a torn ACL to break South Carolina's streak in 2014 is one of the more memorable recent  rivalry performances.
Deshaun Watson playing on a torn ACL to break South Carolina's streak in 2014 is one of the more memorable recent rivalry performances.

Clemson vs. South Carolina Series

• This will be meeting No. 115 between Clemson and South Carolina and the 109th consecutive year the two schools have met. That is the second longest active streak of consecutive years played in a rivalry in the nation. The only rivalry longer is Minnesota vs. Wisconsin at 110 games. Those two teams also play on November 25.

• The Clemson vs. South Carolina series dates to 1896 and the first year of football at Clemson, the fourth season for South Carolina. Clemson holds the advantage 68-42- 4 since that first meeting in Columbia, a game won by South Carolina, 12-6. Clemson’s first win took place the following year, an 18-6 victory in Columbia.

• Clemson broke a five-game losing streak to South Carolina in 2014 with a 35-17 win at Clemson. Deshaun Watson led the Tigers to the victory with 269 yards passing and 13 yards rushing. Playing with a torn ACL, he threw for two scores and rushed for two. The Tigers have won two more since then and have a three-game winning streak in the series entering Saturday’s night’s game.

• The two teams played in Columbia as part of Big Thursday every year through 1959. For the 57 Big Thursday games, Clemson had a 33-21-3 advantage. For the 57 games the team have played since the end of Big Thursday (1959 was last Big Thursday game) the record is nearly the same, 35-21- 1 in favor of Clemson. Clemson is 18-10-1 against South Carolina at Clemson since 1960 and 17-11-0 in Columbia.

• The visiting team won seven years in a row between 1991-97.

• Clemson classes who have beaten South Carolina four consecutive years were the seniors of 1900, 1919, 1930, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1983, 1991, 2000 and 2005. In 2005, Charlie Whitehurst became the only quarterback for either team in the series to start four victories. Obviously, this senior class can join the group with a win Saturday in Columbia.

Unusual Facts about the Clemson vs. South Carolina Series

* Josh Cody, who was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame this year, had a 4-0 record for Clemson against South Carolina between 1927-30. He is the only coach in the series to have a perfect record, given a minimum of three games coached.

* Paul Williams is the last player to letter for both schools. He lettered for Clemson in 1978 and for South Carolina in 1980.

* A Clemson captain actually played for South Carolina. Cary Cox lettered for the Gamecocks in 1943. After the war, he enrolled at Clemson and served as captain for the Tigers in 1947. Cox died in 2008.

* Clemson had three touchdown plays of at least 76 yards against South Carolina in 2006, yet lost the game. Jacoby Ford scored on 76-yard touchdown pass, C.J. Spiller on a 80-yard run and Jock McKissic on a 82- yard interception return. It is the only game in Clemson history in which Clemson has had three scoring plays of at least 75 yards….and Clemson lost the game.

* In 1948 and 1981 a blocked punt returned for a touchdown proved to be the pivotal play in a Clemson victory, victories that allowed Clemson to go on to an undefeated season. In both instances, the original line of scrimmage was the South Carolina 28-yard-line.

* Willie Underwood had two interceptions to lead Clemson to victory over South Carolina in 1980. A starter for four years, the strong safety never had recorded an interception in any of his first 46 games as a Tiger, then had two against the Gamecocks in his 47th and final game. One of the thefts was a 37-yard return for a touchdown, the only touchdown of his career.

* In a placekicking career that spanned five years, Bob Paulling made 107 of 109 extra points. Both of his misses were at South Carolina, one in 1981 and one in 1983. He had a streak of 70 consecutive made extra points (second longest in Clemson history) in between the two miscues.

Memorable Clemson Plays vs. South Carolina

1948 Phil Prince blocked a punt and Oscar Thompson returned the ball for a touchdown that gave Clemson a 13-7 win in Columbia and allowed Clemson to keep an undefeated season. The play took place with 4:15 left in the game.

1959 Harvey White connected with future Super Bowl Champion Bill Mathis for a 26-yard touchdown pass in the third period to put Clemson up 19-0 in the final Big Thursday game in Columbia. White completed 9-10 passes on the day and led the Tigers to the 27-0 victory.

1962 Don Chuy and Billy Weaver combined to sack Dan Reeves for a 13-yard loss on fourth down with just 33 seconds left, preserving Clemson’s 20-17 victory. South Carolina had driven to the Clemson 25 for that last play.

1966 Harry Olszewski, an All-America offensive guard, picked off a fumbled snap in mid-air and ran 12-yards for a touchdown. The 35- 10 victory allowed Clemson to win the ACC title. No Clemson offensive lineman has scored a touchdown in a game in Death Valley since. Saturday will be the 50-year anniversary of that play.

1967 Buddy Gore’s 43-yard run in the third period led to a Tiger touchdown, and was a momentum swaying play in Clemson’s victory over the Gamecocks, a win that allowed Clemson to clinch a tie for the ACC championship. That was the key run on this day that saw Gore become the first Clemson back in history to go over 1000 yards in a season and break Brian Piccolo’s ACC single season rushing record.

1971 Eddie Seigler kicked a 52-yard field goal to lead Clemson to a 17-7 win over the Gamecocks. It was the first field goal of at least 50 yards in Clemson history.

1972 With Clemson leading 7-6 in the fourth period, Jimmy Williamson batted down a Dobby Grossman two-point conversion pass to preserve the victory for the Tigers.

1977 Jerry Butler made a 20-yard touchdown catch of a Steve Fuller pass with 49 seconds left to give Clemson a 31-27 win in Columbia. It clinched a Gator Bowl bid for the Tigers, Clemson’s first bowl bid in 18 years.

1980 Willie Underwood had a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown that clinched Clemson’s upset of South Carolina and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers in 1980. Underwood was named Sports Illustrated Player of the Week for his performance in that game.

1981 Just as it had happed 33 years previously, a blocked punt played a big part in a Clemson victory over South Carolina that allowed the Tigers to have an undefeated season. Rod McSwain blocked a South Carolina punt and Johnny Rembert recovered in the endzone for the touchdown. Just as it had been 33 years previous, the line of scrimmage was the South Carolina 28.

1988 Rodney Williams, a native of Columbia, led Clemson to a 29-10 victory in his final game at Death Valley. Clemson’s winningest starting quarterback in history threw for 192 and rushed for 38 and scored a touchdown.

1990 Chris Gardocki made his final punt in Death Valley memorable when he had a 78-yard boot in the fourth quarter to give South Carolina bad field position and clinch Clemson’s 24-15 victory over the Gamecocks. It remains the third longest punt in Clemson history.

1995 Emory Smith carried South Carolina tacklers 20 yards on the way to a 54-yard run that led to the game clinching touchdown in Columbia. Smith ended the game with 101 yards rushing. 2000--Rod Gardner’s 50-yard reception from Woody Dantzler with 10 seconds left led to Aaron Hunt’s game winning 25-yard field goal with three seconds left.

2007 Mark Buchholz kicked a 35-yard field goal on the last play of the game, to give Clemson a 23-21 victory in Columbia.

2016 Mike Williams caught three touchdown passes in the first half of this game and one he carried a South Carolina defensive back the final nine yards into the endzone.

Clemson’s most significant wins in the South Carolina Series

1900 51-0 Part of a perfect 6-0 season under firstyear head coach John Heisman

1928 32-0 Clemson wins battle of unbeaten teams. Both teams were 5-0 entering the game. Clemson went on to an 8-3 record, a season mark for wins in a season at the time.

1939 27-0 Banks McFadden leads Clemson to victory, important win in 9-1 season that ended with win over Boston College in the Cotton Bowl

1948 13-7 Phil Prince blocks a field goal late in the game, leading to Clemson victory that preserves unbeaten season. Clemson went on to perfect 11-0 record.

1956 7-0 A 20th ranked Clemson team downs South Carolina in ACC rival game. Tigers went on to win the ACC Championship.

1959 27-0 Clemson wins final Big Thursday game in Columbia behind Harvey White. Tigers went on to 9-2 record and number 11 final ranking and the ACC title.

1960 12-2 Clemson wins first game between the two schools in Clemson.

1967 23-12 Clemson wins game in final game of season to clinch ACC Championship. The last time Clemson won an ACC title by beating South Carolina in final game (it also happened in 1966).

1977 31-27 Jerry Butler’s catch in final seconds gives Tigers come from behind victory. Victory sends Clemson to the Gator Bowl, its first bowl game in 18 years.

1980 27-6 Clemson upsets 14th-ranked South Carolina team behind Willie Underwood’s two interceptions and 17 tackles. South Carolina had Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and had won at Michigan earlier in the year. South Carolina was 8-2 entering the game.

1981 29-13 Clemson closes out perfect regular season on way to National Championship.

1988 29-10 Clemson won battle of top 25 teams in Rodney Williams final home game. Clemson then beats Oklahoma in bowl game to finish season in top 10.

2000 16-14 Clemson wins battle of top 25 teams thanks to Rod Gardner’s 50-yard reception from Woody Dantzler in final seconds, and a 25-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt with three seconds left.

2003 63-17 Clemson’s most points scored against the Gamecocks and largest victory margin since 1900. Charlie Whitehurst threw for four touchdown passes and Chad Jasmin scored four.

2005 13-9 Clemson defeats 19th ranked South Carolina team in Columbia, only time it has beaten a top 20 South Carolina team in Columbia.

2007 23-21 Mark Buchholz booted a 35-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give Clemson a 23-21 victory, the only time Clemson has beaten South Carolina with a scoring play on the last play of the game.

2008 31-14 Dabo Swinney defeated South Carolina in his last game as interim head coach, a victory that assured him of retaining the position in a full time capacity.

2014 35-17 Clemson ended a five-year drought in the series with a 35-17 victory at Clemson. Deshaun Watson played with a torn ACL, but accounted for four touchdowns. Freshman Wayne Gallman rushed for 191 yards, the second most in Clemson history against the Gamecocks, and freshman Artavis Scott had had 7 receptions for 185 yards, the most receiving yards in history by a Clemson player against the Gamecocks.


Austin Bryant (DE) – Had two tackles in 31 plays in 2016 game at Clemson. Played in six snaps in 2015 game at South Carolina.

Ryan Carter (DB) – Had one tackle and one pass breakup in 19 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Marcus Edmond (CB) – Had two tackles and one pass breakup in 30 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Clelin Ferrell (DE) – Had one tackle in 37 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Mark Fields (CB) – Had two tackles in 25 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Albert Huggins (DT) – Had three tackles in 29 plays in 2016 game at Clemson. Did not play in 2015 game at South Carolina.

Denzel Johnson (S) – Had five tackles in 20 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Kendall Joseph (LB) – Had five tackles in 40 plays in 2016 game at Clemson. Did not play in 2015 game at South Carolina.

Tre Lamar (LB) – Had four tackles in 12 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Dexter Lawrence (DT) – Had five tackles, including one sack, in 21 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Trayvon Mullen (CB) – Had two tackles in 13 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Tanner Muse (S) – Had five tackles in 20 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Dorian O’Daniel (LB) – Had two tackles, including 0.5 tackle for loss, in 37 plays in 2016 game at Clemson. Had three tackles in 2015 game at South Carolina.

Chris Register (DE) – Had one tackle in 13 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

James Skalski (LB) – Had two tackles in 2016 game at Clemson.

Van Smith (S) – Had seven tackles in 39 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Christian Wilkins (DL) – Had four tackles in 27 plays in the 2015 game at South Carolina. Had one tackle in 28 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Jalen Williams (LB) – Had one tackle in 11 plays in 2016 game at Clemson.

Tavien Feaster (RB) – Had six carries for 36 yards in 2016 game at Clemson.

CJ Fuller (RB) – Had seven carries for 46 yards in 2016 game at Clemson.

Adam Choice (RB) – Had four carries for eight yards in 2016 game at Clemson.

Hunter Renfrow (WR) – Had one catch for 10 yards in 2016 game at Clemson. Played 34 plays, but did not have a catch in 2015 game in Columbia.

Ray-Ray McCloud (WR) – Had three catches for 32 yards in 2016 game at Clemson. Did not play in 2015 game at South Carolina.

Deon Cain (WR) – Had two catches for 38 yards in 2016 game at Clemson. Had five catches in 96 plays and one receiving touchdown in 2015 game at South Carolina.

Cornell Powell (WR) – Had one catch for 11 yards in 2016 game at Clemson.

The rivalry and the record books

We always hear the phrase, “You can throw out the record books when these two teams get together.” While there have been some upsets in this series, usually the team with the better record comes away with the victory.

The team entering the game with the better overall record has a 22-9-1 record in the series since 1981. That computes to 70 percent over a 36-year period. Four times during that era both teams had the same record. However, seven of the last 12 years the team with the better overall record entering the game has lost.

For the history of the series, Clemson has a 43-18-3 record when it enters the contest with the better record, a 70 winning percentage. Clemson has had the better record in 64 of the 114 previous meetings. The teams have had the same winning percentage entering the game nine times and Clemson has a 6-3 record in those situations.

Thus, Clemson is 50-21-3 (.696) against South Carolina over the years when the Tigers enter the game with at least the same record as South Carolina. Clemson has a 68-42-4 advantage in the series overall, so the Gamecocks have a 21-18-1 record in the series when they enter the game with the better record.

Longest Uninterrupted Series (Must have played every year) (entering the 2017 season)

110 games—Minnesota-Wisconsin (from 1907)

108 games—Clemson-South Carolina (from 1909)

107 games—Wake Forest-North Carolina St. (from 1910)

106 games—Kansas-Nebraska (1906-2010)

106 games—Kansas-Kansas St. (from 1911)

104 games—North Carolina-Virginia (from 1910)

102 games—Ole Miss-Mississippi St. (from 1915)

Most Played Rivalries in College Football (entering 2017 season)

Games Rivalry Time Span

126 Minnesota-Wisconsin 1890-2016

121 Miami (OH)-Cincinnati 1888-2016

120 Missouri-Kansas 1891-2011

120 Auburn-Georgia 1892-2016

120 Oregon-Oregon State 1894-2016

119 Stanford-California 1892-2016

118 Texas-Texas A&M 1891-2011

117 Nebraska-Kansas 1892-2012

117 Army-Navy 1890-2016

114 Utah-Utah State 1892-2016

114 Clemson vs. South Carolina 1986-2016

114 Kansas-Kansas State 1902-2016

113 Michigan-Ohio State 1897-2016

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