Passion. Hatred. One of the oldest rivalries in college football. On a pleasant November evening, the South Carolina Gamecocks shut down the Clemson Tigers on a night where records were set and history was made.
Passion and hate : the South Carolina – Clemson football rivalry
College football rivalries are some of the most passionate and storied football games in history. While games like Alabama and Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Ohio State – Michigan, and USC – UCLA get more attention because of the history, prestige, and titles for these schools, the South Carolina – Clemson rivalry may top many of these due to the passion of the fans and a contentious history.
Shots were fired in 1902 on the South Carolina (known as USC here in the South and on the east coast) campus bringing the rivalry to a halt until 1909. In 1961, a USC Sigma Nu fraternity prank had students dressed up as the Clemson football team with crazy stunts that had everyone laughing – except the Clemson fans. This led to brawls throughout the game and a number of injuries.
In 2004, a brawl on the field led to benches being emptied, punches and helmets thrown, player ejections, and both teams suspended from bowl games in the last game of the Lou Holtz era at South Carolina.
For those players who come to these schools from out of state, they quickly learn what this rivalry means to the schools, families, and fans. A rivalry that began in 1896 still continues today with the same passion and intensity that it had over 100 years ago. This game marked the 109th meeting between these two teams and the 103rd consecutive meeting – the second longest uninterrupted streak in college football.
Find out more about South Carolina football and the history of this rivalry in this interview with Travis Haney, co-author of the book State of Disunion which takes a look at the South Carolina – Clemson rivalry.
South Carolina Gamecocks beat the Clemson Tigers
Connor Shaw and the South Carolina defense led the Gamecocks to one of the most dominating wins in the 109 year history of the Palmetto State rivalry. The Gamecocks ran for 210 yards and passed for 210 yards. Shaw accounted for 317 yards of offense while the Gamecock defense held one of the best offenses in the country to 153 total yards – 300 below their average and 170 yards less than the previous low for Clemson during the season.
More importantly, USC won 10 games for only the second time in their history and defeated Clemson for the third year in a row for the first time since 1968 – 1970. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was under pressure all night long and was sacked 5 times as Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney led the defensive attack.
Coach Steve Spurrier took the win in stride saying that hate isn’t the way to beat your rival. Playing a complete football game and coming ready to play football was the way to win. While Clemson has a considerable lead in the history of this rivalry, that isn’t reflected in the last few years as the Gamecocks have won 3 in a row and 4 of the last 6. As Spurrier stated in his press conference, Clemson has owned South Carolina “but they don’t own us now, that’s for sure.”
For South Carolina fans, this game meant everything. The atmosphere at Williams Brice stadium was electric and the crowd was loud all night long. The team seemed to feed off the crowd and the players were elated with the win and gave Steve Spurrier a Gatorade bath to celebrate their victory.
The stats, scoring drives, and record setting evening only told part of the story. As great as the Gamecock victory was for the fans and players, there were traditions and tragic moments that made this a memorable night.
Tailgating, 2001, and brawls
Tailgating is a tradition for Gamecock fans. Whether it’s ribs, pigs, sandwiches, or a low country broil, food, fun, fellowship, and football are a part of every home game at Willams-Brice stadium.
Since this was the week of the Carolina – Clemson game, fans from both schools joined in the tailgating fun around the stadium. Whether it was the Farmer’s Market across the street from Williams-Brice, the State Fairgrounds, or the many streets and parking lots surrounding the stadium, fans enjoyed the atmosphere.
Many people bring RVs and TVs, throw the football, or watch football games on TV as they share food and beverages. Tailgating traditions have long been a part of college football in the South and many people will spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to take part in this each week.
Traditions inside the stadium exist as well. For almost 30 years, smoke and the “2001: A Space Odyssey” (also known as Also Sprach Zarathustra) has been the entrance as the the Gamecock football players make their way onto the field. “Sandstorm” sends the crowd into a passionate frenzy before kick offs and during the game as fans are on their feet, screaming and stomping.
However, rivalries have an ugly side as well. A drunk fan hit a girl and gave her a concussion. Brawls started in the stands as fans of both teams were arrested and led out of the stadium. Security was called a number of times to separate fans. Words were exchanged, foul language was used, and taunting occurred throughout the game. Tensions were high and the many hours of partying before tailgating led to some of the trouble inside the stadium.
Williams-Brice stadium – a great location for college football
Despite the incidents that occurred, Williams-Brice stadium is a great location for college football. Fans are welcoming and offer you a chance to experience culture and football at the University of South Carolina.
Gamecock football under Steve Spurrier is on the rise and has some of the best talent in college football. The stadium is loud and actually shakes at times due to the noise and the excitement of the fans.
Food, football, and southern hospitality – it’s all a part of college football at the University of South Carolina.
Get more information on South Carolina football and check out my travel guides to college towns with Expedia’s College Football page. Learn about the game of college football as I travel around the country to experience the culture, camaraderie, and campus towns on the College Football Travel Tour.