South Carolina’s football team has lost plenty this season. The Gamecocks’ eight losses are their most since the winless 1999 season.
What would one more hurt? That’s essentially how South Carolina (3-8) will be approaching Saturday’s game against No. 1 Clemson. The Tigers are 11-0 and on their way to the ACC championship game. The Gamecocks will be playing their final game of the season no matter what happens.
“We have nothing to lose,” head coach Shawn Elliott said. “We could easily go into our locker room for our team meeting (Monday) and talk about the losses and reflect on those things but we’re going to move forward, we’re going to stay positive and we’re going to try to make this the best week of our season.”
The Gamecocks hope this week can make their season, in fact. The Tigers are in the exact opposite position from South Carolina. They have everything to lose Saturday at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium.
Clemson is the top team in the College Football Playoff standings and is headed toward a spot in college football’s final four if it can beat the Gamecocks and then North Carolina in the ACC championship game. One loss and the Tigers’ national championship hopes are all but finished.
“This can make the rest of the year feel so much better than what it has been for us,” Elliott said. “I think our guys will have good emotion, good intensity and good confidence as they roll up in there.”
Junior quarterback Perry Orth agrees.
“We will find a way to bounce back,” Orth said. “Unfortunately, we have had too many losses this year where we had to rally back, but we will. We are going to get ready to play.”
A South Carolina team that finished the season with a losing record hasn’t beaten Clemson since 1992, when the Gamecocks beat the Tigers 24-13 to finish the season 5-6. The Tigers also finished the season 5-6. That’s the only time a sub-.500 Gamecocks team has beaten Clemson since 1970, and it’s only happened seven times in history.
The first came in 1896 when coach W.H. Whaley became the school’s first full-time football coach and won just one of his four games, beating the Tigers 12-6. That’s also the only time in history a Gamecocks team with a losing record has beaten a Clemson team that finished with a winning record (2-1).
That was Whaley’s only career victory. After one season, he gave up football and joined the South Carolina bar association. He would go on to become a United States senator.
Elliott might not go on to be a senator but his team certainly would get an emotional boost out of beating the Tigers, he said.
Tigers vs. Gamecocks
Who: Clemson (11-0) at South Carolina (3-8)
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
Line: Clemson by 17.5
Don’t lose hope
South Carolina has beaten Clemson seven times in seasons the Gamecocks have finished the season with a losing record. The Gamecocks have only beaten the Tigers once in seasons where South Carolina finished with a losing record and Clemson finished with a winning record. (Records indicated are final records)
1992 – 5-6 Gamecocks beat the 5-6 Tigers 24-13 in Clemson
1970 – 4-6-1 Gamecocks beat the 3-8 Tigers 38-32 in Clemson
1968 – 4-6 Gamecocks beat the 4-5 Tigers 7-3 in Clemson
1964 – 3-5-2 Gamecocks beat the 3-7 Tigers 7-3 in Clemson
1961 – 4-6 Gamecocks beat the 5-5 Tigers 21-14 in Columbia
1949 – 4-6 Gamecocks beat the 4-4-2 Tigers 27-13 in Columbia
1896 – 1-3 Gamecocks beat the 2-1 Tigers 12-6 in Columbia