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CLEMSON ALSO IMPROVES ITS NATIONAL STANDING

During its first 118 years of football competition, the University of South Carolina never finished a season ranked higher than No. 11 – and recorded ten wins just once.

How times have changed …

The Gamecocks – who knocked off Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl – finished the 2012 season ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25, and No. 7 in the USA Today/ Coaches’ poll. That’s a spot higher than they finished last season in both polls. Meanwhile Clemson – which nearly fell out of the Top 25 last year following its humiliating Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia – cracked the USA/Today Top 10 (No. 9) and finished No. 11 in the AP Top 25 on the strength of its big Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU.

It’s the first time in history both teams have finished a season ranked in the Top Ten.

Given its lengthy tradition of mediocrity – which extended through the first five years of head coach Steve Spurrier’s tenure – the Gamecocks’ turnaround is astounding. After posting an uninspiring 35-28 mark (including an 18-22 record against Southeastern Conference opponents) through Spurrier’s first five seasons, USC has quickly become one of the nation’s elite programs.

South Carolina is 31-9 over its last three seasons – including a 17-7 mark against the SEC.  The Gamecocks have also won four straight over their arch-rivals – as well as back-to-back bowl games over top tier opponents.

Clemson has seen its fortunes rise too, though. Despite the losses to South Carolina, the Tigers have posted back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 1987-90 – when the school won 10 games in four consecutive years.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 (2012 FINAL)

ap top 25

1. Alabama (59) 13-1, 1475
2. Oregon 12-1, 1358
3. Ohio State 12-0, 1302
4. Notre Dame 12-1, 1288
5. Georgia 12-2, 1230
5. Texas A&M 11-2, 1230
7. Stanford 12-2, 1169
8. South Carolina 11-2, 1038
9. Florida 11-2, 933
10. Florida State 12-2, 922
11. Clemson 11-2, 889
12. Kansas State 11-2, 871
13. Louisville 11-2, 781
14. LSU 10-3, 756
15. Oklahoma 10-3, 615
16. Utah State 11-2, 456
17. Northwestern 10-3, 443
18. Boise State 11-2, 419
19. Texas 9-4, 358
20. Oregon State 9-4, 303
21. San Jose State 11-2, 243
22. Northern Illinois 12-2, 227
23. Vanderbilt 9-4, 180
24. Michigan 8-5, 147
25. Nebraska 10-4, 119

*Others receiving votes: Baylor 95, Penn State 90, Cincinnati 78, Oklahoma State 42, Tulsa 34, UCLA 31, Arkansas State 28, UCF 9, TCU 9, Wisconsin 6, North Dakota State 1.

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USA TODAY/ COACHES’ POLL (2012 FINAL)

usa today thumb

1. Alabama (56) 13-1, 1400
2. Oregon 12-1, 1322
3. Notre Dame 12-1, 1253
4. Georgia 12-2, 1213
5. Texas A&M 11-2, 1171
6. Stanford 12-2, 1167
7. South Carolina 11-2, 1064
8. Florida State 12-2, 942
9. Clemson 11-2, 916
10. Florida 11-2, 886
11. Kansas State 11-2, 841
12. LSU 10-3, 775
13. Louisville 11-2, 772
14. Boise State 11-2, 633
15. Oklahoma 10-3, 600
16. Northwestern 10-3, 580
17. Utah State 11-2, 444
18. Texas 9-4, 398
19. Oregon State 9-4, 366
20. Vanderbilt 9-4, 248
21. San Jose State 11-2, 244
22. Cincinnati 10-3, 186
23. Nebraska 10-4, 175
24. Northern Illinois 12-2, 156
25. Tulsa 11-3, 110

*Others receiving votes: Michigan 101, UCLA 75, Baylor 52, Oklahoma State 36, Wisconsin 18, UCF 15, Arkansas State 13, Arizona State 10, Rutgers 9, Kent State 5, Louisiana Tech 2, Arizona 1, Ohio 1.

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Pic: Travis Bell, Sideline Carolina