The countdown for the 2017 South Carolina-Clemson game began Saturday night in Memorial Stadium moments after the 2016 game ended with a decisive 56-7 victory by the No. 4 Tigers.
“They beat our butts on the field tonight, but that last couple of minutes was pretty disrespectful,” Gamecocks tight end Hayden Hurst said. “We’ve got a year to think about that and let it sink in. … In a year.”
Players from both sides had plenty to say about the other following the game, which featured Clemson’s second-highest point total and second-largest margin of victory in this series. The Tigers (11-1) now head to the ACC title game and possibly the CFB Playoff after that. The Gamecocks (6-6) will wait to learn their bowl destination.
“We will remember this day for the rest of our lives,” Gamecocks offensive lineman Zack Bailey said.
South Carolina’s coaches and players surely will remember some of the things said by Clemson players after the game for a while, too.
“We knew that they weren’t going to lead,” Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware said. “We knew they couldn’t play with us at any position.”
Saturday was Clemson’s third consecutive win in the rivalry, which featured a five-game South Carolina winning streak from 2009-2013.
“It’s kind of like when you’ve got a little brother and your mom comes in the room and you’re playing your little PlayStation and your mom says, ‘Let your little brother play a little bit. Let him see what it feels like to win.’ We kind of gave them the controllers a little bit, just so they know how to win,” Boulware said of the Gamecocks winning streak. “They don’t really win a lot. They’ve never been that good. We kind of let them feel, ‘OK, this is what it feels like to win.’ We got tired of that and snapped those controllers back. We proved it tonight. They’re the little brother.”
Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had 347 yards and six touchdowns passing despite playing less than three quarters, compared the game to “a daddy beating his son, giving his son a whooping.”
“We run this state,” Watson said. “The longtime record since Game 1, it speaks for itself.”
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney used two timeouts late in the game to re-insert Watson into the game so Watson could receive an ovation in what is expected to be his final game in Memorial Stadium. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp declined to address that after the game, but Gamecocks running back A.J. Turner indicated Muschamp was unhappy about the tactic.
“He did not like what they did at the end of the game,” Turner said. “We kind of took that to heart. It just can’t happen again. That’s all I can really say about it. It’s kind of embarrassing to be honest with you. The next time around, it won’t be like this at all.”
That next game, which will be played on Nov. 25 in Williams-Brice Stadium, was already on the mind of the returning Gamecocks late Saturday night.
“We have to wait 365 days to get our get-back,” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said.