Sapakoff: A to Z guide to Gamecocks-Clemson rivalry
It’s easy cooking up an A to Z list when Alex Ardley played for Clemson and Zip Zanders for South Carolina. This braggin’ rights squabble started quietly in 1896 and continues with a 111th meeting, No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina on Saturday night in Columbia.
But we’re not settling for leftovers.
This is hearty alphabet soup:
A is for Ariri. Clemson’s All-America kicker Obed Ariri (1977-80) helped the Tigers defeat South Carolina four times – three in football and a 1-0 soccer victory in which he scored the only goal.
B is for Big Thursday. From the series opener in 1896 through the 1959 game, all the action took place on Thursday afternoons in Columbia as part of the state fair. Harper Gault in his book “Big Thursday in South Carolina” explained the excitement:
“Big Thursday’s the day mothers leave their kiddies and trip across the State Fair’s dusty midway in high heel shoes to model new fur coats under a ninety degree sun; merchants close stores and farmers forget that last bale of hay.”
C is for Clowney. The Gamecocks’ defensive end finished sixth in 2012 Heisman Trophy voting, in big part because of his 4.5 sacks during South Carolina’s 27-17 victory over Clemson at Death Valley.
D is for double-digits. South Carolina has won the last four games, all by 10 points or more. A stunning streak, considering Clemson was favored in two of those games (2009, 2012) and leads the series, 65-41-4.
E is for embarrassment. A brawl late in the Tigers’ 29-7 rout at Death Valley in 2004 stained Lou Holtz’ final game as South Carolina head coach and kept both teams from going to bowl games.
F is for four. Clemson’s Charlie Whitehurst (2002-2005) is the only quarterback in the series to go 4-0 as a starter.
G is for Gardner. Clemson wide receiver Rod Gardner either made a great catch of a 50-yard Woodrow Dantzler pass, or pushed off against cornerback Andre Goodman to set up a game-winning field goal in the Tigers’ 16-14 win at Death Valley in 2000.
H is for Heisman. Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers of South Carolina rushed for 163 yards in the 1980 game, but didn’t score in Clemson’s 27-6 victory. John W. Heisman – the man, the myth, the trophy namesake – was Clemson’s head coach for two games in the series, a 51-0 win in 1900 and a 12-6 loss in 1902.
I is for imposters. Yes, the rivalry’s best prank. Prior to the 1961 game in Columbia, a group of South Carolina students dressed in faux Clemson football uniforms took the field for warm-ups. After some jumping jacks, the “players” began to twist to the band’s music. There was a brief fracas when outraged Clemson students rushed the field. The real Tigers won the game, 21-14.
Quotes and routs
J is for “Jiggs.” That was the nickname given Edward Donahue, Clemson’s head coach from 1917-20. He went 3-1 against the Gamecocks. More impressively, during the 1918-19 school year, ol’ Jiggs was Clemson’s head coach in football, basketball, baseball and track.
K is kicks. The Gamecocks’ Scott Hagler kicked the longest field goal in the series, a 54-yarder in South Carolina’s 24-17 win in 1985 (Hagler missed from 41 yards in the 21-21 tie in 1986). More recently, Ryan Succop’s 35-yard field goal was the difference for South Carolina in a 31-28 win in 2006, and Mark Buchholz nailed a game-winner from 35 yards in Clemson’s 23-21 win in 2007.
L is for Lanning. South Carolina’s Spencer Lanning grew up in Rock Hill hoping to play for Clemson; both his parents are graduates and his mother Lisa was a “Bengal Babe” recruiting hostess. Instead, Lanning wound up kicking and punting for South Carolina in two wins over Clemson and now wears orange for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
M is for Major. The best individual performance in the series arguably came from “Dopey” Major in the 1916 game. The 150-pound junior had a hand in all four of Clemson’s touchdowns in a 27-0 win (three touchdown passes and a TD run), kicked two extra points and played defense.
N is for national rankings. Saturday night’s game is the first top 10 matchup in the series. Previous best: No. 12 South Carolina vs. No. 8 Clemson at Columbia in 1987 (20-7 Gamecocks win).
O is for Olszewski. Clemson’s All-America guard Harry Olszewski snagged a fumbled snap in mid-air and dashed 12 yards for a touchdown during a 35-10 victory in 1966. The win clinched the ACC title for the Tigers.
P is for postponed. The 1963 game, originally scheduled for Nov. 23, was moved to Nov. 28 after President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22. A relatively small crowd of 37,414 showed up in Columbia for the only Thanksgiving Day game in the series, a 24-20 Clemson victory.
Q is for quotes. The head coaches are playing nice this week, but it wasn’t that way right after the 2011 game. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, via the school’s official Twitter account: “We aren’t LSU, and we aren’t Alabama. But we sure ain’t Clemson.” (Gamecocks radio announcer Todd Ellis later said he added the Clemson part of the quote, not Spurrier).
Counter blast from Clemson’s Dabo Swinney: “There’s a lot of rivalries out there. This is more of a domination. And that’s a fact. My kids’ grandkids won’t live long enough to ever see this really become a rivalry. We’ve won more bowl games than they’ve ever been to. They ain’t Alabama. They ain’t LSU. And they’re certainly not Clemson. That’s why Carolina’s in Chapel Hill and USC’s in California and the university in this state always has been, always will be Clemson.”
R is for routs. Clemson’s largest margin of victory: 51-0 in 1900. South Carolina’s largest margin of victory (and most points scored): 56-20 in 1975. Most points scored by Clemson: 63-17, 2003.
S is for Suggs. Tommy Suggs has a four-game win streak going as South Carolina’s radio color analyst, and still has the best record against Clemson of any Gamecocks starting quarterback: 3-0 from 1968-70.
Taneyhill and Underwood
T is for Taneyhill. The long-haired South Carolina quarterback pretended to sign the famed orange Tiger Paw at midfield and had fun with mock home run swings during the Gamecocks’ 24-13 win at Death Valley in 1992. He led South Carolina to another road win in 1994, 33-7.
U is for Underwood. As in The Willie Underwood Game. Clemson’s senior strong safety returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a 27-6 upset victory over South Carolina in 1980.
V is for Von Kolnitz. The remarkably versatile Alfred “Fritz” Von Kolnitz helped South Carolina to a 22-7 win in 1912, when he was team captain. He also played major league baseball and served as the College of Charleston’s athletic director.
W is for Wadiak. The late Steve Wadiak rushed for 256 yards on only 19 carries for South Carolina in a 14-14 tie in 1950 (still the most yards Clemson has allowed to a player in any single game).
X is for X-rays. Injuries often impact games. But South Carolina won last year without Marcus Lattimore or Connor Shaw. No excuses.
Y is for yo-yo. Cary Cox must have felt like one in this series. He enrolled at Clemson as a freshman but wound up in a military service program at South Carolina during World War II and started for the Gamecocks in the 1943 game against Clemson. Cox later returned to Clemson and was the team captain in 1947.
Z is for zany. The entire Clemson team was missing just minutes before the 1976 game at Death Valley. Head coach Red Parker had his Tigers warm up at a nearby high school, but they showed up just in time for a 28-9 victory.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff