The good, bad and the ugly. There has been plenty of each when Clemson and USC have taken on state-college programs.
The first such meeting was quite ugly for USC, which lost to Furman 44-0 on Dec. 24, 1892, in the first game in program history.
The Gamecocks and Tigers both take on instate foes today, and there should be some good story lines, especially if you like family affairs: Freddie Brown Jr., a former Wofford player and coach, will be watching his son, Freddie III, play wide receiver for the Gamecocks.
Clemson’s Michael Hamlin squares off against his brothers, Markee and Marquis, who play for S.C. State. Clemson linebackers coach David Blackwell will try to stop the S.C. State offense, coached by his brother, Joe.
A look at USC’s and Clemson’s history against state-college schools:
1. In the spotlight
As much as they would love to pull an upset, fans and officials at smaller schools mostly enjoy the exposure they receive when they play the “big boys” — minus the long trip.
Games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents mean big paydays for Wofford and S.C. State. Wofford will be paid $230,000 by USC, and S.C. State will receive $235,000 from Clemson.
3. It’s a bye without a bye
A BCS team playing a big-time schedule in a physical sport such as football needs a few mini-breaks on the schedule. Clemson and USC have to be beware of an upset (see Michigan-Appalachian State), but generally the chances of losing or sustaining injuries are reduced.
4. New looks
With a bigger margin for error, USC and Clemson can experiment in games such as these, whether that means trying out new players or new plays.
5. Seeing something different
You don’t see BCS teams employing the triple-option offense anymore, so it’s neat to see it done well by Wofford.
1. No-win situation
So what if Clemson or USC wins 66-0? That doesn’t do much to impress pollsters. But a solid 35-17 win would look weak to somebody who only sees the final score.
2. Bragging rights
When a team loses to a smaller, instate foe or even has a close call, the fans of the smaller school suddenly become loud and proud. Maybe that’s why USC hasn’t played The Citadel or Furman since those schools pulled off upsets of the Gamecocks.
3. No exposure
These games are seldom televised, whereas if Clemson or USC played a team like Arizona State — which Georgia does today — it would be on national television.
4. A bench warmer ... still
While a blowout usually gives a team the chance to empty its bench, what about the players who still don’t get in? Their friends will make fun of them by saying, “Man, it’s one thing not to play against Florida, but you didn’t even get in against Furman!”
5. One and done
USC has spent a week cramming for Wofford’s unique triple-option offense, changing its approach in numerous ways. But once the game’s over, everything the players learned is pretty much useless the rest of the season.
1. The Citadel 38, USC 35
In October 1990, the Bulldogs used their wishbone offense to amass most of their 396 rushing yards, shock the Williams-Brice crowd and doom the Gamecocks’ bowl hopes. It was the seventh time South Carolina fell to The Citadel but the first time since 1950.
2. Furman 28, USC 23
Richard Bell’s only season as South Carolina’s coach was 1982, and this October stunner sealed his fate. The Gamecocks entered with a 3-2 record, but this loss started a four-game losing streak, and when the season was over, Bell was out and Joe Morrison was in.
3. Clemson 10, The Citadel 7
The 1976 opener was a squeaker, and although the Tigers pulled it out, it was the start of a rough season. The Tigers went 3-6-2 and were winless in the ACC.
4. Furman 12, Clemson 0
The final game of the 1936 season, this was the last time Clemson lost to an instate school other than USC.
5. USC 6, Charleston Coast Guard 6
This 1944 matchup was one of the last for USC or Clemson in series against now-defunct football programs that dotted their pre-World War II schedules. The others included the Charleston Y, which USC lost to three straight times from 1896-97, and Camp Hancock, which beat Clemson 66-13 in 1918.
— Seth Emerson
- Seth Emerson