Clemson coach Dabo Swinney could not have been more polite Tuesday morning in talking about this week’s showdown against USC. From the size of the offensive line, the play of quarterback Connor Shaw, the big play contributions of the tight ends and the ever menacing presence of Jadeveon Clowney, Swinney shared some of his inner thoughts on the Gamecocks. He also had nice things to say about Steve Spurrier.
All of this sets the table for what should be a testy 110th renewal of an instate war which, in a rare occurrence, will garner national attention. The teams are a combined 19-3 and ranked 11th (Clemson) and 12th in the BCS Standings this week. That’s the most combined wins in the history of the series. And there is strong speculation that a Clemson victory will land the Tigers a spot in the Sugar Bowl.
But above all that, Clemson wants to end the three game losing streak to the Gamecocks, and USC will be trying for its first four game winning streak in the series since the early 1950s. Clemson’s senior class, one of the most successful in school history, has never tasted victory over the Gamecocks. And, of course, USC’s seniors never have had to deal with a loss to the Tigers.
“It’s an exciting week, biggest game of the year, and our biggest challenge of the year,” Swinney said. “Going have to play an outstanding game against this group. They find a lot of different ways to win games. Really got a tough challenge ahead. They are really big up front and it all starts with their center. Their quarterback obviously was probably the difference in the game last year and has the abilit to make a lot of plays. He’s the guy we’ve got to do a better job with than last year if we’re going to have a different result.”
AUDIO: Swinney breaks down USC [9:20]
Last year USC jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter as Shaw hit Bruce Ellington with a 49 yard scoring pass. Clemson scored the next ten points but a 15 yard touchdown run by Shaw late in the half put USC up 17-10 at halftime. Shaw had two touchdown passes in the second half as the Gamecocks went on to a 34-13 win.
Shaw completed 14-20 passes for 210 yards and no interceptions. He also rushed for 107 yards. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd had one of his worst games of the season passing for just 83 yards completing just 11 of 29 attempts and he threw an interception in the fourth quarter that led to a USC touchdown. The Gamecocks sacked Boyd five times and held the Tigers to just 153 total yards.
Both quarterbacks are having superb seasons. Boyd has completed 68% of his passes for 3367 yards and 33 touchdowns. He’s thrown 11 interceptions and has run for 466 yards and eight touchdowns. Shaw has completed 67% of his passes for 1732 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s thrown 7 interceptions and has rushed for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Clemson is a four point favorite. ESPN will televise the game which will kickoff between 7:15 and 7:20 PM.