Thanksgiving week is best known for family gatherings, delicious food, and Black Friday shopping. For South Carolina football fans, this week is all about beating the Clemson Tigers. No matter how the season has gone, Gamecock fans revel in the opportunity to knock off their in-state rivals.
Historically, this has been a rivalry that has frustrated the Gamecock faithful with Clemson leading the series 65-41-4. Many seasons have ended in heartbreak to the Tigers. A classic rivalry that has largely been in the shadows of the Michigan-Ohio State, USC-Notre Dame, Alabama-Auburn games has recently taken a drastic change.
For the second time in school history, South Carolina is riding a four game win streak over the Tigers. Head coach Steve Spurrier, in his 9th year at USC, changed the Gamecocks’ mentality regarding Clemson when he came to campus. There used to be signs all over the football facilities with the words “Beat Clemson”. He immediately had those removed and changed South Carolina’s philosophy about the Tigers. He believed that they were being built into something special and that was negative for his team.
Clemson just became another team for his Gamecocks. The Tigers are still South Carolina’s biggest rival, but the Gamecocks don’t build them into something bigger than life anymore. For fans though, this will always be about bragging rights and beating family and friends.
No member of the 2013 team has lost to Clemson, and the Gamecock seniors, led by quarterback Connor Shaw, want to end their careers a perfect 4-0 against their in-state rivals. A fifth straight win seems like a reasonable request for the nine win Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks have won 17 straight at Williams-Brice Stadium. USC has a chance to extend this school record to 18 by beating the Tigers on Saturday. The sixth ranked Tigers will come into town feeling pretty confident themselves however.
A high-flying offense led by senior quarterback Tajh Boyd will challenge the Gamecocks’ defense, and a stout pass rush will keep Connor Shaw on his toes all night. The Tigers have only lost to undefeated Florida State and will have plenty of motivation against their oldest rivals. Clemson is one win away from a BCS Bowl berth and certainly want to end their embarrassing losing streak to Carolina.
The tenth ranked Gamecocks also have BCS Bowl aspirations. With a win in this exciting top ten matchup, the Gamecocks could potentially have the credentials to sneak into a BCS Bowl. Beating the Tigers for an unprecedented fifth time in a row and reaching ten wins for the third season in a row should prove to be plenty of motivation for South Carolina however.
The Tigers will technically be favored in this game, but records should be thrown out in the Palmetto State rivalry. Emotions will be high on Saturday, and Williams-Brice will be rocking as a school record seventh sellout crowd will cheer on the Gamecocks. Expect it to be close, but the Gamecocks will certainly be able to win a special one in Columbia.
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