|Dylan Thompson led a South Carolina offense that outgained Clemson and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. (US Presswire)|
SOUTH CAROLINA WON. South Carolina dictated the pace, possession, and delivered big plays in key situations to defeat Clemson for the fourth straight year, 27-17 in Death Valley. The game was Steve Spurrier's 65th win as the Gamecocks' coach, making him the winningest coach in more than a century of South Carolina football.
Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson got the starting nod and made the most of the opportunity, throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns and running the ball 14 times as part of a patient and steady offensive attack that racked up 444 yards of offense. Thompson only completed 23 of his 41 attempts, but most of those completions were high percentage throws to playmakers like Ace Sanders or Bruce Ellington in space. Combined with a Kenny Miles-Mike Davis rushing attack, it allowed South Carolina to old the ball for 39:58 of game time.
HOW SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Limiting the opportunities for Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense was part of South Carolina's recipe to stop Clemson. The upbeat, high-tempo offense never got a chance to be in a rhythm with long stretches on the sideline and the inability to convert on third down. The Tigers converted on just 5 of 12 third downs, mostly a credit to the terrorizing pass rush of Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. Boyd was sacked six times, and hurried most of the second half as South Carolina gobbled up the clock and slowly pulled away from their hated in-state rivals.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: The fourth quarter opened with a game-changing interception by Clemson defensive back Xavier Brewer in the end zone, stopping a 15 play South Carolina drive that ate up 6:44 of clock. But instead of making the Gamecocks pay for their error, Tajh Boyd gave the ball right back with an interception. On the next possession, Dylan Thompson converted on 4th and 1 and 3rd and 19 to set up the game-sealing touchdown. The Tigers' defense got the benefit of two South Carolina penalties, and were not able to deliver the stop they needed to get back in the game.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC) would be in a great position for an at-large BCS bowl bid if it weren't for the five other teams ahead of them in the BCS standings. Instead, this win is a tribute to Steve Spurrier's accomplishments as the Gamecocks head coach. Last season was only the second 10-win season in the program's history, and now Spurrier has recorded two in a row. Throw in the whole "winningest coach in South Carolina history" and the fourth straight victory over their hated rivals -- in "the other" Death Valley, too -- makes Saturday night's win pretty sweet for Gamecocks' fans.
WHAT CLEMSON LOST: Clemson clearly does not have the same issue South Carolina does when it comes to BCS bowl bids. In fact, it was believed that a win over South Carolina would complete a solid resume that could earn the Tigers an at-large bid -- possibly to the Sugar Bowl. But the loss likely will knock Clemson out of the top fourteen in the BCS standings, making them ineligible to be selected for an at-large bid.
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