No. 8 Clemson is out of the college football race after losing 31-30 to South Carolina, which snapped a Gamecocks’ six-game losing streak and Tigers’ 40-game home streak that dates back to nearly six years before there was any current player in the game. Clemson on campus. Clemson also saw a 68-0 stretch of winning games after building a first-half lead under head coach Dabo Sweeney.
Special teams took center stage in the Gamecocks’ win, a fitting statement for coach Shane Beamer, longtime special teams coordinator. South Carolina drove from their own 19-yard line and forced a fumble returner Antonio Williams that the visitors recovered to run out the clock. Punter Kai Kroeger had a great game with seven boots, five of them falling inside the 20-yard line. Only one of those drives that followed resulted in points for the Tigers.
Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 8 of just 29 passes for 99 yards in the worst performance of his career and a mark matching his efforts last year in this rivalry.
South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler followed up his six-touchdown drive in an upset at Tennessee by throwing for 360 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Antwane Wells hauled in eight punts for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
South Carolina’s win over Clemson was the first since the Gamecocks beat the Tigers 31-17 in 2013. Connor Shaw was the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, and led the program with 152 yards passing and 94 yards rushing.
Here’s more takeaways from Saturday’s upset at the Palmetto chain.
Statement expiry until year 2 under Beamer
It’s been several years since South Carolina was a legitimate mayhem team, but the Beamer has put the program back where it belongs. The Gamecocks now have back-to-back wins against top 10 opponents for the first time in program history. They also snapped up conference games that would have been losses in years past, beating Kentucky and fourth-ranked Texas A&M in the game. 247 Sports Talent Composite.
The Beamer has quickly become a favorite in Columbia, and with good reason. South Carolina has enough talent to cause problems for top-ranked opponents in the SEC East and beyond. Getting back into contention with competitors and swinging at least one SEC East race is a big step for this program—and it should quickly become a valuable recruiting tool for drug abusers.
Clemson out running CFP
Even if Clemson had beaten South Carolina, it likely would have needed style points as a potential one-loss champion in a playoff game. However, the rivalry loss—which gave Clemson its second regular season loss of the season—closes off any backroom opportunity for Clemson to play its way. The Tigers took care of business playing the ACC with an undefeated 8-0 record, but non-conference contests against South Carolina and Notre Dame ultimately doomed the CFP to the chase. The Dabo Swinney program has reached the heights of college football by dominating the ACC, but that is no longer enough to compete on the national stage.
And the Tigers’ QB woes continue
Uiagalelei had a better statistical year as a junior, but his miserable effort against South Carolina only underscored why questions persist about the former five-star. Uiagalelei completed 28% of his passes and failed to reach 100 yards.
South Carolina took a one-point lead with 10:54 left in the game. Clemson had three complete drives to attempt a field goal only to regain the lead. The first ended with three consecutive back-to-back finishes. The second resulted in Uiagalelei being intercepted on the second play. The third ended with a punt heading after an incomplete three over.
Clemson managed to win 10 games for the second straight season, but Uiagalelei is still a burden after two years as a starting quarterback. Backup Cade Klubnik might be the answer, but it’s unpalatable to try and run that list and system again in 2023.