South Carolina is on an unforgettable two-game tear.
Clemson is all however out of the College Football Playoff.
And coach Shane Beamer’s Gamecocks, after seven lengthy seasons with out them, have lastly reclaimed these candy, candy, year-long bragging rights that come hooked up to one in every of school football’s biggest rivalries.
Clemson receiver Antonio Williams fumbled the ball on a punt return with two minutes left and South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler hit receiver Antwane Wells Jr. for a primary down on the next possession to expire the clock and safe an prompt basic 31-30 victory over No. 8 Clemson in Memorial Stadium.
This is the Gamecocks’ first win towards the Tigers since 2013, in addition to their first time successful back-to-back video games towards ranked opponents since 2013.
Standing at 8-4 and 4-4 within the SEC after consecutive wins towards Tennessee and Clemson, South Carolina has additionally received eight video games for the primary time for the reason that 2017 season — a surprising turnaround accomplished totally on the backs of embattled offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield’s unit, which was lights out as soon as once more on Saturday afternoon.
At 10-2 and 8-0 within the ACC, Clemson will nonetheless play within the ACC championship recreation towards North Carolina subsequent week. But the Tigers, already sitting outdoors the CFP’s high 4 groups, will virtually definitely miss out on the playoff for a second consecutive season beneath coach Dabo Swinney after six straight appearances (and two nationwide titles) from 2015 to 2020.
The Tigers had been as soon as once more hampered by turnovers — they’d three of them and misplaced the turnover margin for a fifth consecutive recreation — and struggled to defend a red-hot South Carolina that torched Tennessee for 63 factors and 606 complete yards final weekend in Columbia.
South Carolina outgained Clemson 414 to 316 on Saturday, and Rattler, regardless of two interceptions, continued his late-season resurgence. The Oklahoma switch accomplished 25 of 39 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns, delivering on-target go after on-target go to topple the Tigers – and their ACC-record 40-game residence successful streak.
Wells, a James Madison switch, was additionally excellent for a second consecutive recreation with a game-high 9 catches, 131 receiving yards and two touchdowns. South Carolina’s protection was clutch, too, permitting simply seven factors and 86 complete yards within the second half.
This was the 119th all-time matchup between the longtime rivals and, unquestionably, an prompt basic. But early on, it felt like déjà vu.
In 2021, Clemson shuts out USC behind a robust protection and an excellent stronger speeding assault. The Tigers adopted the same script on Saturday, with linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. selecting off Rattler and returning it 35 yards for the sport’s opening landing and Uiagalelei scoring a brief speeding landing on Clemson’s subsequent possession.
The Tigers weren’t with out fault within the first quarter — USC cornerback Darius Rush dropped a positive pick-six on Uiagalelei’s second try of the day — however after quarter-hour they led 14-0. That rating was nicely consistent with their current dominance towards the Gamecocks.
Then issues bought bizarre.
Trailing by two touchdowns, Rattler discovered receiver Antwane Wells Jr. behind the tip zone on fourth and objective to present USC life (14-7). Then, on probably the most controversial play of the day, referees whistled a possible South Carolina defensive landing lifeless and after a evaluate confirmed that Uiagalelei had thrown a ahead go to working again Phil Mafah somewhat than a backward go (which USC thought it had recovered) .
Clemson went up 16-7 after defensive sort out Ruke Orhorhoro sacked Rattler in the long run zone solely to fumble the following free kick after a hidden ball trick play. Rattler responded with a 4-yard speeding landing (16-14), and Uiagalelei discovered receiver Antonio Williams large open in the long run zone on the following possession (23-14).
Then South Carolina went for it on fourth and 1 from its personal 34-yard line and bought right down to Clemson’s 1-yard line after a 65-yard play-action go from Rattler to working again Juju McDowell … just for Clemson security RJ Mickens to select off Rattler two performs later.
That finish zone interception — in addition to a Herculean effort by Clemson security Andrew Mukuba to chase down McDowell after getting burned on the play — loomed giant as Clemson entered the half with a 23-14 lead.
But South Carolina refused to go away within the third quarter. The Gamecocks used a 37-yard punt return by Ahmarean Brown to arrange a brief Jaheim Bell speeding landing and minimize their deficit to 23-21. Then, trailing 30-21 after a Shipley landing, Rattler hit Wells on the cash for a 72-yard rating — the longest play by both crew all day.
The Gamecocks flat-out dominated these quarter-hour, averaging 10.7 yards per play and bought much more momentum when Clemson security RJ Mickens was ejected for concentrating on on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bell. (Mickens will miss the primary half of Clemson’s ACC championship recreation towards No. 17 North Carolina subsequent week.)
South Carolina took its first lead of the sport, 31-30, on a 35-yard Mitch Jeter area objective with 10:54 remaining within the fourth quarter whereas shutting down a Clemson offense that had been greater than respectable within the first half.
Clemson punted on 4 of its first 5 possessions within the second half and turned it over for a second time when cornerback Marcellas Dial intercepted Uiagalelei with 6:37 to go within the recreation.
The Tigers pressured consecutive punts after the Uiagalelei interception to present their offense an opportunity however did not get a shot at a game-winning drive after Williams’ fumble with 2:05 remaining.
Uiagalelei did not give the Tigers a lot assist both, ending 8 of 29 for 99 yards, one landing, one interception and a passer score of 60.7 heading into subsequent Saturday’s ACC championship recreation towards UNC in Charlotte.
As for South Carolina? The Gamecocks are idle on championship weekend however will eagerly await their bowl vacation spot on Dec. 4, higher referred to as Selection Sunday. And they’re going to benefit from the heck out of this win over Clemson for a lot, for much longer.
This story was initially printed November 26, 2022 3:40 PM.