South Carolina, having wrapped up its conference slate and bowl eligibility, now turns it attention to rival Clemson. The Gamecocks haven’t knocked off the Tigers since 2013, a 31-17 victory in Columbia. That was the final regular season game for Gamecock luminaries Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney and the cap to a five-game winning streak in the series. Both South Carolina and Clemson entered that game ranked inside the top 10. Saturday’s game, however, will be the first matchup in the series between two unranked teams since 2009.
But that fact does nothing to dampen the impact of the rivalry or the importance of Saturday’s game. The Gamecocks are looking to break the Tigers’ stranglehold in the Palmetto Bowl and improve their bowl position.
Head coach Shane Beamer spent much of Tuesday’s press conference heaping praise on Clemson and his coaching counterpart, Dabo Swinney. Beamer has made no secret of his respect for Swinney and how much he has appreciated his counsel dating back to their days as assistants.
Some key comments from Beamer:
- I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Swinney …. I think it’s pretty cool that Dabo’s the head coach, now, because I can remember when were we both assistant coaches. He was at Clemson as the recruiting coordinator, I was the recruiting coordinator here. Then he was the interim head coach. I remember going to Clemson on a rainy day, he beat us and ended up getting the job the next day and the rest is history. It’s great that it’s come full circle and we’re competing again in one of the great rivalries in college athletics.
- It’s not just another game, let’s be realistic. We understand what this game means to the people of this state. You do have to be careful about putting it on a higher pedestal than the other games …. We talk about that every week. Nameless, faceless opponent. Now, I’m not an idiot. I understand this is an intense rivalry.
- Sometimes in a rivalry, you can get too emotional, too amped up. Once the game kicks off, it’s about the 22 guys out there.
- On his Palmetto Bowl memories: I remember in 2009, all the talk was, you can’t kick it CJ Spiller. I was coaching Special Teams. We kicked it to him (covered it well). DJ (Swearinger) and Stephon (Gilmore) and all those guys were excited. We were offsides. I had a voice in my head a coach had told me a long time ago, nothing good happens on a re-kick. We kick it to him again, he takes it back 85 yards for a touchdown …. Won that game, thank God.
- On his son, Hunter, asking Dabo Swinney for Tigers gear: When I was at Oklahoma, Hunter started to like Clemson and Trevor Lawrence. He jumped on the bandwagon. He was playing flag football in Norman. I sent Dabo a clip and he said he was going to recruit him. Dabo likes to joke with me about that now.