CLEMSON | South Carolina exorcised another orange demon Saturday night.
Only one more left to complete the best season in school history.
The No. 18 Gamecocks dispatched rival Clemson 29-7 in Death Valley, giving them their first back-to-back victories against the Tigers in 40 years. Now, it’s on to Atlanta, where the orange-and-blue of Auburn await in the SEC championship game.
“I am 3-3 with Clemson now and two in a row, I guess, is good because it hasn’t happened in a long time,” USC coach Steve Spurrier said. “You would have thought that would have happened in the last 40 years. But anyway, we’ve done some firsts this year, and there’s another one out there next week that we’re going to try to do.”
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South Carolina, which toppled another orange rival (Florida) three weeks ago to clinch its trip to Atlanta, has nine wins in a season (9-3) for the third time in school history. The Gamecocks last beat the Tigers (6-6) in consecutive seasons in 1969-1970.
“We are going to have a good year,” Spurrier said, “but it could be a super year if we put it all together next week.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney would settle for average.
“I am just very disappointed in how we played. I can’t put it any other way,” Swinney said. “This was a very disappointing season. To lose to USC is very unacceptable. Our future is bright, but it’s awful dark right now.”
A Memorial Stadium crowd of 81,500 watched as South Carolina scored more points than any Clemson opponent this season other than Miami. The Tigers’ ACC-best defense, which had not allowed more than one touchdown in six consecutive games, took away one South Carolina superstar but could do nothing with the other.
Tailback Marcus Lattimore had 48 yards on 23 carries, but wide receiver Alshon Jeffery filled the void with his seventh 100-plus yard game of the season. He had five catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.
“(Clemson defensive coordinator) Kevin Steele had an excellent plan,” Spurrier said. “We couldn’t run the ball on these guys. We tried a little bit of everything. Fortunately, we didn’t need to run the ball much in the second half.”
Until Saturday, South Carolina had only won once this season when Lattimore did not have at least 90 yards.
“That showed we can do a lot of stuff on offense,” said quarterback Stephen Garcia, who was 14-of-30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. “He’s a great player and we’re still going to get him the ball a lot, but if people stop him, we still have to make first downs and move the ball and score.”
South Carolina had 68 yards of offense in the second half but got a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown from Antonio Allen in the third quarter.
Clemson took the opening kickoff and zipped 73 yards on four plays, taking a 7-0 lead with 13:10 left in the first quarter on a 45-yard pass from Kyle Parker to DeAndre Hopkins. However, South Carolina’s defense allowed 178 yards in the next 58:10. Parker was benched in favor of freshman Tajh Boyd after Allen’s interception.
Auburn (12-0) beat South Carolina 35-27 on Sept. 25 in Auburn and will be playing for a spot in the BCS national title game. The Gamecocks will be playing for their second conference title since they began playing football in 1892.
“Next week is one of the biggest games our team has ever played,” Spurrier said, “and we’re looking forward to it. I don’t know if we can hang with Auburn or not, but we’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”
Steve Spurrier postgame
Gamecocks beat Clemson video highlights
Clem - Hopkins 45 pass from K.Parker (Catanzaro kick), 13:10.
USC - FG Lanning 46, 9:18.
USC - DiMarco 5 pass from Garcia (kick blocked), 5:00.
USC - A. Jeffery 37 pass from Garcia (Lanning kick), 14:53.
USC - FG Lanning 25, 8:22.
USC - Allen 37 interception return (Lanning kick), 10:17.
USC - FG Lanning 37, 1:15.
A - 81,500.
|Time of Possession||34:43||25:17|
RUSHING: South Carolina, Lattimore 23-48, Maddox 5-23, Garcia 5-18, Miles 3-6. Clemson, Harper 16-58, McDowell 1-39, Ellington 1-0, Team 1-(minus 18), Boyd 8-(minus 18).
PASSING: South Carolina, Garcia 14-30-0-227. Clemson, Boyd 10-18-0-73, K.Parker 7-17-1-117.
RECEIVING: South Carolina, A.Jeffery 5-141, Lattimore 5-41, Cunningham 2-33, DiMarco 2-12. Clemson, Hopkins 7-124, J.Brown 3-28, M.Jones 2-13, Harper 1-12, Dye 1-6, McDowell 1-4, Ford 1-2, Diehl 1-1.