It’s Carolina-Clemson football week – so naturally, while we consider how the teams will stack up on the field, we also like to debate each team’s game day experiences.
Now in all fairness, I am a USC grad. My husband, father, two sons, nephew and assorted cousins are USC grads. Rabid Gamecock roots go back at least four generations. Quite simply, Carolina is the best in everything.
But to be fair, I enlisted the help of Clemson grad Laura Haselden Stoner, whose Tiger roots are as deep as my Gamecock ones. Here, we offer the best of each team’s game day fun.
And, while this year’s game is in Clemson, we’ll count the days until it’s back here in Columbia next year.
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USC: Williams-Brice is a formidable structure that embraces Gamecocks like a second home. With 80,250 enthusiastic fans, the stadium has been known to actually sway. Beyond the North end zone you can see the Columbia skyline.
Clemson: Located on campus, Death Valley provides an intimate and beautiful setting for fans and 80,000 of their closest friends. Fans feel like they are part of the action given the close proximity of seats to the field, and the loud atmosphere intimidating to visiting teams.
USC: Nothing gets the adrenaline going more than hearing the first notes from “2001: A Space Odyssey” blaring from speakers at Williams-Brice. Then, listening to the stadium erupt when the players emerge onto the field through smoke, it’s no wonder the Gamecocks’ entrance is considered one of the best in college football.
Clemson:The anticipation fans feel as players gather at the top of The Hill is like nothing else. As the band begins to play Tiger Rag and the cannon explodes, waves of enthusiasm pour out as players touch Howard’s Rock and make their way down The Hill. It truly is the “most exciting 25 seconds in college football!”
The fight song
USC: The Carolina Fight Song is unique, and not repetitive. The lyrics encompass “Carolina,” “Fighting Gamecocks” and “Garnet and Black.” And as a bonus 13-year boys can yell “Go Cocks” with no repercussions.
Clemson: Tiger Rag is a song known by Clemson fans everywhere. It is a rite of passage for fans as they learn it in their early years by emulating their parents. Each time the Tiger Band begins to play, fans rise and join in “the song that shakes the Southland.”
The student section
USC: The student section has developed quite a reputation for rabid enthusiasm. Whether it’s the bare-chested students spelling “Carolina” or “Gamecocks” or the entire 12,000 student section rocking out to “Sandstorm” with white rally rags, they definitely add to the rowdy game-day atmosphere.
Clemson: Clemson students are known for their enthusiasm. Students arrive early to claim their seats, whether in the stands or on The Hill, and stay late to rush the field. They participate and lead cheers throughout the game, including counting the Tigers push-ups for points scored, and the students end each game standing and swaying while singing the alma mater.
USC: USC has taken tailgating to a new level. Options abound – Gamecocks gather in condos around the stadium, luxury parking facilities and Cockabooses. There are also lots and the State Fairgrounds for those who like to stay old school. You’ll see grills, catered meals with formal settings, picnics and lots of fried chicken. You’ll see corn hole and TVs showing other football games. The Carolina Walk adds to the excitement when the players walk through fans to the stadium, and fans can enjoy a carnival type atmosphere nearby.
Clemson: Clemson’s tailgating is reminiscent of a neighborhood gathering where fans new and old, from one generation to the next, come together for camaraderie and hospitality that can only be found in Clemson on a fall Saturday. It’s children sliding down hills on cardboard; it’s high-fiving cheerleaders, coaches and players during Tiger Walk; it’s walking through campus on your way to the game. For many fans, it’s coming home.