David Cloninger

Cloninger Soundoff: Mojo over Tigers continues from baseball season

I once saw a guy fill an inside straight without using any card in the flop. I’ve seen a man pull a pickup truck with a rope clenched in his teeth, seen Cher win an Oscar and seen Pearl Jam in concert seven times, each time leaving me saying, “They’ll never top that. Unbelievable.”

I have a new definition of unbelievable. And it’s what South Carolina did to Clemson on Saturday, and keeps doing to Clemson in this rivalry matchup.

The all-time series may be 65-42-4, but ask any Tiger player or fan right now how many they would gladly give back to erase some of the sting of the past five years. I can’t remember the last time USC was so dominant in this rivalry.

I grew up where the norm for USC was hoping for one rivalry win every five years. The usual rotation was for Clemson to win three or four straight, then the Gamecocks might get one win. A two-game winning streak to USC was a tie in 1986 and a win in 1987. The seven-year streak where the road team won every year represented the high mark.

No more. This will go down in history as the time where the Gamecocks were so inside the Tigers’ heads that they might as well be paying rent. It could also be the time where USC begins to make this more of a close series – that’s a long way to go, but five straight with a chance for six certainly doesn’t hurt.

My good friend Larry Williams had a great point this week – he compared it to the baseball series. USC has made it such a mental thing with Clemson that the Gamecocks expect some kind of Clemson flub to happen – when it does, they take over.

On Saturday, it was when Tajh Boyd fumbled. Driving for the game-tying touchdown, Boyd fumbled the ball away.

There were over eight minutes to play. It was a seven-point game. Anything could happen.

But the Tigers mass exhaled. There it was and there it goes.

One touchdown and three more turnovers later, including a second dropped punt of the game, and the Gamecocks had their fifth straight win.