South Carolina Football vs. Clemson:
There are too many great moments in this rivalry to limit the list to just five, so here are a handful of honorable mentions:
The Dylan Thompson/Jadeveon Clowney Game
This one is less about a particular moment (that will come later) and more about the impressiveness of an entire game.
In 2012, less than an hour before the Gamecocks and Tigers kicked off, it was announced that Connor Shaw was unable to go, and Dylan Thompson would play. Most fans thought that the game was decided at that point as Thompson had struggled in spot duty for the oft-injured Shaw, but the Gamecocks had other plans that night.
Dylan Thompson absolutely shredded the rival Tigers for almost 350 total yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had two long 3rd down conversions on the ground to seal the victory late.
After significant trash talk from Clemson receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, the defense did its part to slow down the high-powered Clemson offense, too.
Jadeveon Clowney might have had the single-best defensive lineman performance in school history as he sacked Tajh Boyd 4.5 times, including one on the last play of the game.
Clowney let Boyd hear about after the play, too, as the Clemson QB took several opportunities to talk trash during the week leading up to the game, including repeatedly saying “I’m not scared” of Clowney, something that stuck with him through the 2013 game as Clowney told interviewers that Boyd “sure did look scared” on the field.
The win gave Steve Spurrier the all-time record for wins as the coach of the South Carolina football program.
There will be more from the 2012 game later.
George Rogers Is the Only Heisman Winner in This State
In 2009, six Heisman Trophy candidates had separated themselves from the rest of the country. Running back Mark Ingram (Alabama), quarterback Colt McCoy (Texas), running back Toby Gerhart (Stanford), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska), and quarterback Tim Tebow (Florida) were five. The sixth? Clemson running back CJ Spiller.
Heading into the annual rivalry game that season, Spiller’s Heisman hype was high as the 2009 race was one of the closest in the history of the award. Many were ready to hand him the award after he took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown (on his 2nd try; the Gamecocks were called for a phantom offside penalty on the 1st kick).
However, as much hype had been built up, it was gone by the time the Gamecocks were done with Spiller that day. In a dominant performance, the Carolina defense held the Clemson offense without a touchdown until the 3rd-stringers were in the game, and Spiller had just 18 yards rushing and lost a fumble.
Spiller’s showing was so bad that he and head coach Dabo Swinney offered up different (fake) excuses for what happened. Spiller said he was “sick,” while Swinney said Spiller “tweaked his groin.” The abysmal showing left him out of the Heisman Trophy ceremony altogether. Mark Ingram won the award.
George Rogers is still the only Heisman Trophy winner between the two programs.
Alshon Jeffery Makes Williams-Brice Cry Tears of Orange
In 2011, Clemson fans thought that the Tigers were going to beat the Gamecocks to get back into the win column in the rivalry series. Carolina had a really good year but didn’t seem quite as good as their record.
Losing Marcus Lattimore for the year to an injury, a quarterback change midseason to an inexperienced Connor Shaw, close games against average teams like Navy and Mississippi State, and a loss to a bad Auburn squad gave some credence to those feelings.
Those Gamecocks were just a little better than the Tigers had hoped, though.
USC’s defense swallowed up Clemson that day, holding the powerful Chad Morris offense to less than 200 yards and Tajh Boyd to the worst game of his career.
The offense was pretty good, too, as quarterback Connor Shaw accounted for 4 total touchdowns and over 100 yards on the ground.
An 18-yard strike from Shaw to Alshon Jeffery was the final score as the Gamecocks went up 34-13. Jeffery stood over Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, and the Clemson fans in attendance couldn’t take any more disappointment.
With over 5 minutes left on the clock, the upper deck of Williams-Brice Stadium looked as if it were crying tears of orange as Clemson fans left with their dejected Tiger tails between their legs.