It’s on to the next season in the mind of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. His team completed the non-rivalry game portion of the year at 10-1 and 8-0 in the ACC. Now, it’s an entirely new season with USC coming to Death Valley Saturday for a noon kickoff.
Swinney repeatedly emphasized the importance of winning the Palmetto Bowl during his Tuesday press conference, remind all that had he not won the game as the interim coach in 2008, he might not be the Clemson coach today 14 years later. It’s just a game neither side wants to lose.
Swinney has tasted the sweet and sour side of the rivalry. He’s currently enjoying everything that has come his way during a seven-game winning streak over the Gamecocks. He also had to endure a five-game losing streak when Steve Spurrier in Columbia and all the arrows that came with that. With a win Saturday, Clemson will be the first team in the rivalry to win eight in a row.
Swinney offered up a lot of respect for Shane Beamer and what he’s doing with the Gamecocks. He cited their performance in beating 5th ranked Tennessee last Saturday as their best game of the season and an indication of how much the program has improved. He also said his team played their best game of the season in beating Miami last weekend.
On the injury front, starting left guard Marcus Tate is out for the rest of the season with a kneecap injury suffered against Miami, but Swinney said receiver Beau Collins, who has missed the last two games nursing a shoulder injury, is good to go this week. Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee also will be back after missing last weekend due to strep throat.
The Tigers lead the all-time series with the Gamecocks 72-42-4 and has more wins over the Gamecocks than any other team they have played. This will be the first game in the series at Death Valley since 2018 because the teams weren’t allowed to play in 2020 due to Covid rules of the SEC. Clemson is a 14-point favorite.
Key comments from Swinney:
- Beamer has done a great job, they played their best game last week and his team did as well, lot of talented guys on the Gamecocks, lot of guys they recruited, cited Brad Johnson, Sherrod Greene and Cam Smith as some standouts.
- Never seen a team hotter on offense than the Gamecocks were last week, Rattler was uncanny with his precision, they are very experienced up front, cites the receivers as being veterans, Bell is a Swiss Army knife, special teams has made difference for them.
- Wants fans to show up, knows it’s a noon kickoff and he needs the best noon kickoff crowd they have had, this week is about preparing well and staying focused, managing the holiday with families, favorite week of the year for him.
- The 2008 game was his first as the interim head coach, he felt if they won, he’d have a good chance to keep the job, and the Tigers won and he’s still here.
- Every year you put everything into this game, the records don’t matter, comes down to execution once the emotion wears off, can’t get distracted, most fired up team isn’t going to win, it’s the team that does those things best that wins games.
- 2013 was the low point in the rivalry, thought they had the better team but 6 turnovers killed them, said Spurrier called him next day and said he couldn’t understand how they lost that game with the superior team.
- Rattler was a five-star recruit and the starting quarterback at Oklahoma for a reason, he’s got a lot of talent. His throws last weekend vs Tennessee were off the charts.
- USC did a good job schematically vs Tennessee, ran some Wildcat, they took some shots, used a lot of max-protection and Rattler put the ball on the money and receivers made great catches.
- Uiagalelei is now a confident runner, he’s faster and more athletic than people think, he breaks a lot of tackles, he changes directions well.
- Moving Simpson inside has worked out great, he has the talents for the position and is a natural for it, he’ll play inside in the NFL.
- How they’ve used Bell to help out in the backfield shows good coaching, also how they’ve used Joyner, had to do it out of necessity because of injuries to their top two backs.
- Hard to win in college football, so much parity, any given Saturday an upset can happen, there’s only 4 undefeated teams left.