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Palmetto Bust: Which Loss Was Worse?




For the last three seasons, the University of South Carolina football team’s annual matchup with arch-rival Clemson has been a Top 20 affair.  Last year – for the first time ever – it was a Top Ten matchup.

In fact you’ve got to go all the way back to 2008 (a.k.a. the last time Clemson beat South Carolina) to find a “Palmetto Bowl” in which at least one of the two teams wasn’t ranked in the Top 20.

Such has been the rise in stature of this traditionally one-sided rivalry …

This upward trajectory may have hit a ceiling this season, though.  Both Carolina and Clemson laid eggs in their 2014 season openers – with Steve Spurrier‘s No. 9 Gamecocks getting routed at home on Thursday night by a No. 20/21 Texas A&M squad that was supposed to be entering a rebuilding year.

Meanwhile Dabo Swinney‘s No. 16 Clemson hung tough with No. 12 Georgia for three quarters before getting gashed in the fourth quarter by Bulldog running back (and Heisman Trophy frontrunner) Todd Gurley.

Both teams had critical weaknesses exposed in areas that were supposed to be their strong suits: Clemson on offense and Carolina on defense.  And both coaching staffs have some serious work to do if they hope to climb back into the national spotlight.

So … which team’s loss was worse?

Our founding editor (a 2x South Carolina alumnus) isn’t going to want to hear this, but we think the answer is clear: South Carolina’s defeat was MUCH worse.

First the Gamecocks were ranked seven spots higher than Clemson heading into the season.  Second they were played a presumably weaker opponent (Texas A&M was ranked nine spots below Georgia) – and  they were playing them at home.  Third, while the margin of defeat was equal, South Carolina got beaten much more severely than Clemson – which was actually a few third quarter first downs away from keeping its game competitive.

The Gamecocks trailed Texas A&M 31-14 at halftime and never seriously challenged the Aggies in the second stanza …

Anyway, those are our thoughts.  Which team do you think laid the bigger egg?  Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …


Pic: Travis Bell Photography