COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier hasn’t spent much time this week talking about what’s at stake for South Carolina on Saturday. He doesn’t need to.
The Gamecocks know their history. They know what they can accomplish against Clemson, just as they’re aware of what’s never been done before.
Despite four straight wins over its bitter rival, South Carolina enters the 111th edition of this in-state rivalry far behind Clemson. It’s the point junior cornerback Victor Hampton made last Saturday night, officially kicking off rivalry week when he made sure everyone knew his team trailed the all-time series — and it wasn’t close.
Yes, Clemson’s 65-41-4 record stings USC. No, Spurrier said, he hasn’t pounded the point home to his team.
“Our guys know what it is,” Spurrier said. “If we’re going to have a good game, we have to go play our assignments, play with tremendous effort, things like that. That’s generally what we talk about.
“They know what’s happened, they know the history of the series. We’re still way behind, but we’ve had a good run. We know that.”
Clemson may own the all-time series. South Carolina owns the present.
When the No. 10 Gamecocks (9-2) host the No. 6 Tigers (10-1) for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday night on ESNP2, Spurrier hopes his team’s dominance from the past four years continues. South Carolina has won each of the past four games by more than a touchdown, an average victory margin of 17.5 points. It’s been total domination, much like Clemson enjoyed before these past four years.
South Carolina has never beaten Clemson five straight times. The Gamecocks’ only previous four-game winning streak against their rival was six decades ago, spanning 1951-54.
“It would be a great feeling,” junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles said. “Been beating those guys for the last couple years. It’s not going to be any easier this year. They’ve got a great offense run by a great quarterback. I feel like we’re going to have to go out here and execute real well.”
It could be the final home game for Quarles, who could skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Quarles said this week he’s leaning toward not doing senior day ceremonies. He has not committed publicly to going pro or returning to school.
If Quarles does leave school early, he has a chance to go undefeated in his career against Clemson. He’s not the only Gamecock with that distinction on the line. Quarterback Connor Shaw, guard Ronald Patrick, cornerback Jimmy Legree and defensive end Chaz Sutton will try to become one of South Carolina’s senior classes never to lose to Clemson.
“It would mean the world,” said Legree, a Beaufort native. “Coming from South Carolina, being able to defeat Clemson in the last home game, last game of the regular season.”
“Same thing,” Patrick added. “I mean, anytime you can go undefeated against a team and not lose to them, it’s big. Not many players from any schools can say they haven’t lost to a single team since they’ve been in school.”
It’s a special claim, especially when that single team is an in-state rival.
There’s no doubting Clemson’s motivation Saturday. The Tigers have a talented, veteran team, a group that will have unfulfilled careers if they never get a win over the Gamecocks.
Just don’t overlook USC’s motivation.
“For me the motivating factor is this is my last home game,” Patrick said. “So, being my last game, winning streak on the line, playing against Clemson, I couldn’t picture finishing my last game any better. It’s going to be an exciting, fun night. I’m looking forward to it.”