It’s the Palmetto Bowl. It’s Clemson and South Carolina (aka UofSC). The rivalry. Rivalry, the term always used to describe the more than a century old series. So what is a rivalry?
Definition of rivalry: the act of rivaling : the state of being a rival : COMPETITION
Usually, when speaking of a rivalry of some sort, we think of two parties going back and forth, while being competitive. There is no denying that these two fan bases are rivals, as they are always going back and forth. The actual football teams themselves though? Well, there hasn’t been a whole lot of back and forth, and there certainly hasn’t been a ton of competitiveness. It is a series that for the most part, has been fairly one sided.
Clemson has won 70 of the 116 meetings (4 were ties), meaning they have won 60% of the games played. When you add in that all the games were played in Columbia until 1959 (the first 64 games), it makes it appear even more one sided. Since 1960, when they started rotating the games between each home stadium, the Tigers are 37-21-1 against the Gamecocks. From 1971 to 2009 UofSC never even won two straight, a period of almost 40 years. In my lifetime, Clemson is 30-14-1 against South Carolina. That isn’t a rivalry. That’s domination.
Not to say the Gamecocks haven’t had their moments, but they have been few and far between. There was the 56-20 win in 1975, the most points ever scored in the series by UofSC. In 1984 there was the “Black Magic” season. In 1992 there was Steve Tanneyhill signing the Tiger Paw in Death Valley. Then of course, the 5 game streak.
The Tigers have had far more noteworthy wins however. In 1977 it was “The Catch” by Jerry Butler. In 1980, the Orange Britches made their debut under Danny Ford. In 1981, Clemson won 29-13 on their way to their first national title. In 1989, the Orange Britches made their road debut in Columbia, Danny Fords last game against the Gamecocks. In 2000, it was Rod Gardner and “The Catch 2.0.” In 2003 there was 63-17, the Tigers most points in the series. Charlie Whitehurst won his 4th straight over UofSC in 2004. In 2014, Deshaun Watson beat them on one leg, and in 2016 we had 56-7.
For a brief moment in time, it looked as if the tides were turning. From 2009-13, the Gamecocks reeled off 5 straight wins under head coach Steve Spurrier. All 5 wins came by double digits too. All across the internet, pictures of UofSC fans were posting photos of themselves “five bombing” Dabo Swinney. They would ask for the photo, then flash the 5 fingers as the photo was snapped.
As frustrating as enduring that losing steak was, anybody that was paying attention to what was happening on the recruiting trail knew knew things were about to return to normal, and return to normal they have. Clemson heads into their November 30 matchup looking for their sixth straight win since ending that 5 game skid.
During the Tigers current five game winning streak, all but one of those wins have come in dominating fashion. Even the 37-32 win in 2015 wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. Clemson led by 18 on two occasions and the Gamecocks never possessed the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. They had to score a TD with just one second left to give them their moral victory against the nations number one team.
No, this series hasn’t been very competitive. Next time you and and any of your Gamecock fan buddies happens to throw out that word “rivalry,” while sitting around, going back and forth about the upcoming game do them a favor. Remind them of what the word “rivalry” actually means, and remind them of how one sided this SERIES has actually been.
Need a good chuckle? Check these out these great videos from the “In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death” YouTube channel.