South Carolina suffers its first rivalry shutout since 1989.
The South Carolina Gamecocks got a whipping from the Clemson Tigers on Saturday in the Palmetto Bowl, taking a 23-0 shutout on the chin in Williams-Brice despite the energized effort they’d shown in recent weeks and a raucous crowd behind them.
Clemson opened the scoring on the game’s first possession, with quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei shaking off some poor pass attempts to scramble for 22 yards on a huge 3rd and long, which ultimately set up a 29-yard rushing score by tailback Will Shipley.
The Gamecocks, unfortunately, had no immediate answer on their first drive of the game, taking an early substitution penalty and then struggling to make things happen with quarterback Jason Brown under duress. The South Carolina defense offered a response, though, when Cam Smith beat his man downfield and hauled in an interception — but the Gamecock offense once again went nowhere and USC was forced to punt.
South Carolina’s defense stood tall on Clemson’s next possession, pushing the Tigers into a possible 55-yard field goal try, which Dabo Swinney elected not to attempt. Brown gave the ball right back to Clemson, however, when a miscommunication between him and Jaheim Bell resulted in an easy pick for the Tigers deep in Gamecock territory. Fortunately for South Carolina, Clemson went three-and-out — aided by a Damani Staley sack — and had to settle for a 29-yard field goal that pushed their advantage to 10-0.
Things continued to worsen for the Gamecocks in the second quarter, as the Tigers quickly added to their total with a 34-yard rushing score to make it 17-0. South Carolina finally got its first first down of the game with a 30-yard strike to E.J. Jenkins. However, the Gamecocks again had to punt, and after Clemson turned it over on downs, South Carolina served up another turnover of its own, with Brown tossing another interception to Andrew Booth Jr. while trying to find Josh Vann for a deep score. Both teams traded punts, then took the 17-0 score into the locker room. South Carolina mustered just 75 yards of total offense, with 53 of those yards coming through the air on a woeful 4-of-13 passing line from Brown.
Things didn’t improve for the Gamecocks coming out of the break, as they immediately went three-and-out. The Tigers, led by Shipley, continued to grind South Carolina into mincemeat on the ground, but Darius Rush managed to break up a deep pass on third down to limit Clemson to a 47-yard field goal and 20-0 lead.
After more frankly boring action, the Gamecocks pinned the Tigers to the 2-yard line and forced a Clemson punt that landed in plus territory. South Carolina made a quarterback change to Zeb Noland, who got off to a good start with an 8-yard completion — but the Gamecocks quickly went backward with an ill-advised trick play and a holding call, and ultimately turned it over on downs with no points on the board. Clemson added insult to injury, tacking on a 49-yard goal that made it 23-0 early in the fourth quarter — and if that wasn’t bad enough, Noland was stripped on a fourth down try.
But don’t worry — if you were looking for more misery, Clemson converted a fourth down so they could run in a 6-yard score with about three minutes left to go up 30-0. And for more salt in the wound, the Gamecocks finally reached the red zone in the final minute but elected to not kick a field goal, which would have a) given Parker White a chance to tie the school record, and b) would have avoided the first shutout in 32 years.
The Gamecocks fall to 6-6 and will await their bowl opponent.