In the late 1800s, South Carolina and Clemson began facing off in football on “Big Thursday” to attract more people for the S.C. State Fair.
The game was a big attraction for the fair, despite football being a relatively new sport without a huge following at the time.
The game and the sport continued to grow, and eventually Big Thursday became one of the biggest days in the state.
“It was a state holiday, and it was a fashion show,” said Don Barton, who served as South Carolina’s sports information director from 1950-59. “Dress shops in Columbia did more business on Big Thursday than they did for Easter. The girls would come wearing hats. Their boyfriends or husbands would buy the corsages to wear. It was a fashion show.”
USC and Clemson played 57 Big Thursday games between 1896 and 1959, all in Columbia, with the Tigers holding a 33-21-3 advantage.
The Big Thursday tradition ended after the 1959 game, when Clemson decided it was unfair for all of the games to be played in Columbia.