#PalmettoBowl: Gamecocks Get Mauled … Again

South Carolina humiliated by Clemson …

All week, Clemson University’s defending national champion football team heard about how much better their arch-rivals at the University of South Carolina were playing this season.  Meanwhile, the Gamecocks peppered social media with the hashtag #NeverAgain … vowing that last year’s humiliating 56-7 loss to the Tigers would not be repeated.

What happened?  South Carolina got humiliated … again.

Head coach Will Muschamp‘s team managed to score ten fourth quarter points against Clemson’s second-string defense, but by that time Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. was virtually empty.

Hardly any Gamecock fans stuck around to see it …

Clemson raced to a 34-0 lead and never looked back – delivering head coach Dabo Swinney his 100th career win as a head coach and putting the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 ACC) within one game of their third consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff (CFP).  Clemson, ranked No.3 by the CFP selection committee, will likely move to No. 1 after top-ranked Alabama and second-ranked Miami both fell during the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Meanwhile the Gamecocks (8-4, 5-3 SEC) fell for the fourth straight time to their in-state rivals – who have been outclassing them on the recruiting trail for several years (an edge that’s only going to widen in the wake of another rivalry drubbing on the field).

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(Via Travis Bell Photography)

After vowing not to repeat his abysmal performance in Clemson last year, South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley (above) turned in his worst start of the season against the Tigers.  The 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore from Opelika, Alabama was held to a season-low 126 yards passing – and 77 of those yards came on the Gamecocks’ final drive against Clemson’s backup defenders.

Bentley also threw a pair of interceptions, including a pick six that gave the Tigers their first points of the evening.

“I’ve got to be responsible for every pass I throw,” Bentley said of his interceptions.  “It’s 100 percent on me and I’ve just got to be better.”

After throwing four interceptions through South Carolina’s first eight games, Bentley threw seven picks during the Gamecocks’ final three contests.

“We’re not going to let this define our program,” Bentley said after the game. “Our focus now is on getting better and going to a good bowl game.”

South Carolina should receive a decent bowl invitation, but the Gamecocks were badly exposed on Saturday evening as a team that hasn’t progressed nearly as far as fans had hoped.

Meanwhile Clemson appears to be kicking things into “championship gear” at just the right time.

(Click to view)

(Via Travis Bell Photography)

Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant (above) completed 23 of 34 passes for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  His top target?  Freshman wide receiver Tee Higgins, who caught three passes for 84 yards – including a pair of clutch third-down receptions in the first half that helped break open a tight game.

Higgins is emerging as a go-to deep threat for Clemson – complementing junior wideout Deon Cain and possession receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught a pair of touchdown passes against the Gamecocks.

In addition to its aerial attack, Clemson also ground out 184 rushing yards against South Carolina – led by freshman Travis Etienne‘s 41 yards on nine carries.



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Banner: Travis Bell Photography

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