When it was suggested that I do a list of the Top 10 USC wins in my 50 years, I thought, “Wow, this will be easy, I'll just put down the last 10 wins over Clemson and be done with it.”
While my Top 10 does include one victory over the Tigers, there are some other games that deserve a place on the list, which I will do chronologically instead of by number.
I know some of you will question why a win over the Deacon Demons would be important, but it was the game that clinched the first and only ACC Championship for the Gamecocks. The fact that Coach Paul Dietzel's team smacked Clemson 27-13 the next week to complete a 6-0 league mark was just icing on the cake.
This has to be on the list of anyone who witnessed this game. Led by quarterback Jeff Grantz, the Cocks scored on all eight possessions, including the final one with 45 seconds left. Carolina finished 7-5 in coach Jim Carlen's first season.
USC had not beaten UGA in the previous 15 meetings (there were two ties), and Carlen's Gamecocks didn't just win, they dominated the Bulldogs, who had a hotshot young quarterback by the name of Buck Belue.
At the time, no one believed that George Rogers would go on to win the Heisman had it not been for that day in Ann Arbor. The game brought national attention to George, who gained 142 yards on 36 carries.
It was a landmark win in coach Joe Morrison's first season that saw the Gamecocks the victors in just five games. It was, however, an indication of the Black Magic season that was to come the next year.
All of us had grown up listening to all the hype about the Irish - the Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus, gold helmets, and for the Morrison's Gamecocks to beat them in South Bend was a very special moment.
After eight failures, the ninth time was the charm, as Carolina finally won a bowl game, the Carquest in Miami under Brad Scott. Steve Taneyhill passed for a TD and ran for another, but the difference was a 47-yard field goal by Reed Morton.
The back-to-back wins versus the Buckeyes was a sign that Carolina was starting to make up some ground in the mission to become a competitive member of the Southeastern Conference under Lou Holtz. It also continued to show the dominance by SEC teams over the Big 10.
In his first season as USC's coach, Steve Spurrier demonstrated that he still “had it” as a college coach and that he could “take his and beat yours, and take yours and beat his” with the victory over his alma mater. The Gamecocks won seven games and began was has now become a streak of nine consecutive bowl-eligible seasons.
For long-time Carolina fans, the possibility of another 10-win season like 1984 seemed unattainable, especially since the Gamecocks were now playing in the toughest conference in the country. Beating the Cornhuskers and their head coach Bo Pelini for number 11, was another priceless moment. The Hail Mary pass from Connor Shaw to Alshon Jeffery on the last play of the first half will always be one of those “forever” memories.
It's a great time to be a Gamecock!