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Sunday, November 29, 2009
107th Meeting Of Clemson - USC A 34-17 Charm
The 38th victory for USC against Clemson on Saturday was a charm for more reasons than one. With the victory margin 65-37-4 in favor of Clemson, any victory would seem sweet, but this game had a lot of emotions and season long trash talking among friends, neighbors and radio listening junkies. But this year has been the challenge of rather this is even a rivalry any more. If South Carolina is in the wrong conference or even capable of playing competitively in the ACC. Clemson was on a six game winning streak, South Carolina was on a four game losing streak. Dabo Swinney represented the new wave of young coaches having successful seasons and careers, while Steve Spurrier, once considered the Guru of offensive play calling and synonymous with winning and championships, was being questioned for his capability to produce a championship caliber team or at least get South Carolina past their arch rivals. Not to mention the Tigers went into this game ranked 18th, with the Cocks having fallen from the graces of national rankings. [watch game or highlights]
Well it turned out that the Ole Ball Coach, used his experience, enhanced with a two preparation period, and established a game plan and a relaxed but prepared team focus that allowed the Gamecocks to basically dominate the Tigers in all aspects of the game, following the second chance opening kick, that saw C.J. Spiller set a NCAA record for career kick-off touchdowns, with his 88 yard return for touchdown. After that play South Carolina went on to deliver its' own blows, more frequently and more powerful.
South Carolina overcame early penalties and miscues, to dominate the game. Some will say this was no domination, but Clemson is on its' way to the ACC Championship game, sporting an offense scoring over 30 points a ballgame in the last six weeks. But South Carolina held Spiller to 18 yards on 9 carries, Jacoby Ford to 49 yards on 5 catches. The Tigers could only generate 260 yards on the day, with 48 yards total on the ground. USC held the ball for over 36 minutes while Clemson was able to play with the ball for less than 24 minutes. While Tiger QB Kyle Parker managed 22-42 passing for 212 yards most of the yards were gained on a pass frequent, late offensive, drive for Swinney's ball club and often other drives were held to movement only in the middle of the field. Even though prepared for the Wildcat formation, or "Wild Roost" if you're looking for the South Carolina branding, Clemson could not stop the second possession offensive wrinkle when Stephon Gilmore led the Cocks on a run oriented "Wild Roost" scheme. The package, that all have been looking for all season, included a nice 39-yard down field post strike to freshman sensation, Alshon Jeffrey, which set up a Brian Maddox touchdown a couple plays later and the Gamecocks seemed extremely poised to control the remainder of the game which they did. Missing out on an opportunity late in the first half to place more points on the board, after a Clemson's forced bad punt of 14 yards was touched but not recovered by USC's Antonio Allen on the Clemson 29 yard line. Clemson retained possession but could not move the chains but dodged another score by the host team. USC won the first half 17-7 and the second half 17-10, to claim complete dominance of the rival game, and reestablish the in-state rivalry by giving Gamecock fans "Bragging Rites" (bragging rights) for one year.
Spurrier's play calling was great, Steven Garcia played well, but Kenny Miles was a star carrying the ball 17 times for 114 yards. Eric Norwood, who had a fumble recovery, provided tons of pressure, along with defensive stars Clifton Geathers and DeVonte Holloman. Many players stepped up to become a part of this most memorable game, now in its' 100th consecutive meeting. Guys like Tori Gurley and Weslye Saunders made significant contributions, along with the intangibles not seen in the stats from the offensive line. This team victory amassed 388 total yards (223 rushing/165 passing), 6-16 in third down conversions (1-1 on 4th) and only 4 penalties. [videos]