It's Thanksgiving with no Clemson vs. South Carolina, and that's a sad thing

by - Senior Writer -
Travis Etienne won't get another shot at South Carolina.
Travis Etienne won't get another shot at South Carolina.

It’s Thanksgiving week, and for every year I’ve been around college football, that meant we were all looking forward to the annual rivalry game against South Carolina. Not in 2020. And that’s just the Pitts, pun intended.

Instead of the South Carolina Gamecocks making the trip to the Upstate for the annual affair, South Carolina hosts Georgia (usually played earlier in the season) and Clemson plays host to Pitt (not originally on the schedule). Pitt is fine. They are a good team -- would likely be a double-digit favorite if they played South Carolina this week.

Pitt is a good opponent with a pulse. Clemson will mark Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day all in one, will likely wear purple and say goodbye to players like Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. But remember when James Davis stood on the field at the end of the 2008 game – a 31-14 Clemson victory – and raised his arms in triumph as the crowd stood to its feet and roared?

Do you remember when a little-known interim coach named Dabo Swinney was carried off the field by his players, the crowd chanting his name, at the end of that game? Of course, you do. It was special because it was a win, but it was even more special because it was against South Carolina.

This season? Gone, like a puff of smoke. Perhaps it would have been another laugher as once again the Gamecocks struggle with a coaching transition. Maybe South Carolina would have found a spark and kept it close. Probably not, but anything can happen in a rivalry game.

The Tigers have won six in a row in the series and have outscored the Gamecocks 256-104 in that span. Last year’s 38-3 Clemson victory was the 117th game in the series, which Clemson leads 71-42-4.

Clemson would be going for a seventh consecutive win this season (and would more than likely be prohibitive favorites), which would tie for the longest such streak in the series (Clemson won seven in a row from 1934-1940).

When the teams face off next season (Nov. 27th), it will have been 2,919 days since the Gamecocks have claimed a football victory in the rivalry. If you’re the type who likes to count, that is 7 years, 11 months, and 28 days. That game – from everything I am hearing – will be played in Williams-Brice Stadium. Yes, the game was supposed to be played in Clemson this year and playing in Columbia next season means Clemson fans will go four years without seeing the rivalry in Death Valley.

That stinks, too, because nothing has quite the feel of a cool, fall day with people in the colors of both schools – friends and families and strangers on opposite sides of the rivalry – tailgating and laughing together. Those moments are far better than the vitriol of social media or message boards. In a year in which we need all the normalcy we can get, the game will be missed.

I’ve spent countless Thanksgivings either at home, at the house of a family member, or at Edisto chasing predictions by former players and recruits, looking to see what the players themselves think about the big rivalry game.

This year I will actually have to be civilized and talk to the family. I can’t stand it.

*The series is the longest continuous non-conference rivalry in the nation, with the teams playing each year since 1909. The only longer consecutive rivalry is Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (it’s a conference game), who played for the 113th consecutive year last season. Those teams also won’t play this season.

Longest Continued OOC Series in College Football

Clemson vs South Carolina, 1909-Present

Georgia vs Georgia Tech, 1925-Present

Notre Dame vs Navy, 1927-Present

Army vs Navy, 1930-Present

Miami (OH) vs Cincinnati, 1945-Present

USC vs Notre Dame, 1946-Present

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