Clemson hit the road to take on South Carolina in the (usually) annual Palmetto Bowl rivalry game. It was a typically exciting rivalry weekend with Ohio State falling to Michigan, and Auburn and Alabama going to 4 overtimes. This game, however, lacked any sense of excitement as the Tiger defense completely stifled the Gamecock offense. And Clemson’s running game continued to be effective in a 30-0 win.
Will Shipley returned the opening kickoff to the 27. The Tigers moved out to midfield with runs by Shipley and catches by Beaux Collins. On 3rd & 11, D.J. Uiagalelei scrambled down to the Gamecock 29. Shipley then got loose with some good blocking by the line. B.T. Potter connected on the extra point to give Clemson a 7-0 lead at 11:44 in the 1st quarter. The Tiger defense opened with an excellent series and the Gamecocks didn’t help themselves with an illegal participation penalty. After the punt, Clemson started at their 37.
The Tiger drive started with a nice run by Shipley. Then D.J. went deep for Collins but the pass was poorly thrown and was intercepted. The Tiger defense rose to the occasion, though, and forced a punt that was shanked a bit and rolled out of bounds at the USC 40.
The Tiger possession was completely unremarkable with short runs and a dropped pass by Collins, although to be fair D.J. threw it to the wrong shoulder. Will Spiers put the Gamecocks at their 5 with the punt. On the first play, Andrew Booth Jr. jumped a route and nearly picked it off. Two plays later he made the interception at the USC 13.
The Tiger offense couldn’t capitalize, but Potter salvaged the possession with a 29-yard FG, giving Clemson the lead 10-0 at 2:40 left in the 1st quarter. The Tiger defense sent the Gamecocks to the sideline with a 3 & out. The punt put the Tigers at their 20.
Clemson went to the run game with Shipley and Kobe Pace picking up solid yardage. Pace got free and sprinted 34 yards to score at the 12:10 mark of the 2nd quarter. Clemson led 17-0. USC started their drive with a 30-yard pass into Tiger territory. But after that they couldn’t make any progress and punted. The Tigers took over at their 5.
Phil Mafah had some good runs to move the Tigers away from the end zone and D.J. hit Dacari Collins for 37 yards into Gamecock territory. Mafah continued to move the ball for the Tigers but on 3rd & 3, Shipley could only get 2 yards. They went for it on 4th with D.J. trying to hit Beaux Collins down the right sideline but the pass fell incomplete. USC’s drive started well, but they went for a deep pass and Booth picked it off at the 1.
Clemson moved out past the 30 but the drive stalled and they punted. USC didn’t do much and the clock expired with Clemson leading 17-0 at halftime.
USC had one good run in their possession and then nothing else to start the 2nd half as the Tiger defense forced a 3 & out. Clemson stayed with the running game as Shipley churned out yardage. A holding penalty set them back, though, and they couldn’t convert 3rd & 5. Potter came in and squeaked a 47-yard FG just inside the right upright to give the Tigers a 20-0 lead at 9:05 in the 3rd quarter.
The Gamecocks got a 1st down and then nothing more. They did get off a nice punt that pinned the Tigers inside their 1. Clemson could only move the ball out to the 4. Spiers only managed to get off a 32-yard punt and USC got the ball back at the Tiger 37.
Clemson’s defense rose to the occasion and forced a 4th & 14 that the Gamecocks couldn’t convert. D.J. hit Will Brown with a nice throw rolling out to the right to pick up 26 yards to the USC 33. A holding penalty put the Tigers in a hole that they couldn’t climb out of and Potter came in to kick a 49-yard FG that gave Clemson a 23-0 lead with 12:24 left.
The teams traded possessions and then Clemson scored on a 6-yard run by Mafah with 2:30 left.
Clemson again leaned on its running game and smothering defense to put the Gamecocks away in a game that was never in doubt. To some, a season with no conference championship is disappointing but 9-3 is nothing to complain about. Yes, the Tiger offense has suffered from poor play at times, but a dominating win over the Gamecocks always makes the offseason enjoyable. Let’s talk about today’s game, making it 7 in a row, and bowl season in the comments section. We’ll have detailed discussion of the whipping of the Gamecocks over the next few days. Thanks for stopping by!