USC turned to its tried and true formula to beat Clemson for a fifth straight time Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium….just enough offense and a relentless defense. The Gamecocks won 31-17 before 84,174 fans to “get one for the thumb” and there was absolutely nothing flashy about it. ‘
The Gamecocks had only 318 yards, their second lowest production of the season, but they controlled the clock, got to Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and forced turnovers.
Quarterback Connor Shaw was the offensive star for USC. He was their leading rusher with 94 yards and he passed for 152 yards. Time and again Shaw’s number was called to pick up a crucial first down and most times he delivered. The Gamecocks were 10-19 on third down and had the football for roughly 16 minutes longer than the Tigers. USC ran 78 plays to Clemson’s 57.
Boyd had another miserable night against his arch-rival. The holder of 57 Clemson records will leave without a victory over USC. He accounted for half of Clemson’s six turnovers with two picks and a lost fumble.
Clemson also was hit with 8 penalties including a crucial offsides when USC lined up to go for it on fourth and one from their own 34 late in the third quarter. That first down kept the drive alive and led to a Mike Davis two yard touchdown run which put the Gamecocks up for good 24-17 early in the fourth quarter.
From there the Gamecock defense took over. Boyd lost a fumble at the Gamecock 30, Adam Humphries fumbled away a punt for the second time in the game which USC converted into seven points, and Boyd threw picks to Skai Moore and TJ Holloman on the final two possessions.
Both teams are now 10-2 and are off until their bowl game. Despite the loss, Clemson could still end up in a BCS game, possibly the Orange Bowl. The Gamecocks would love a chance to go to the Sugar Bowl but it’s more like for them to end up in the Cotton Bowl or one of the Florida bowl games.
The Gamecocks extended their home winning streak to 18 which is the current longest in the country. All five of their wins over Clemson during the streak have been by double digits. Clemson now leads the series 65-42-4.