After a year in which pandemic-induced schedule changes ended a streak of 111 consecutive meetings between the two schools from 1909-2019, Clemson will resume its rivalry with South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 27. The kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
"This will be a talked-about game. (The players) will get that vibe from everywhere," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "Everyone talks about it throughout the state. Turn on the tape and see that they have done well and have good players. They run it well, they have some good skill guys outside, a big offensive line, a good defensive line, so our players will see that. We have to go back to work. We have to have good meetings, good practices and get ready.
"This game is a stand-alone goal on our goal board. Everyone knows that this is a very important game to a lot of people. You're playing for a trophy. We're excited about it. Always a special week for both teams."
The game's removal from last year's schedule delayed an opportunity that now awaits Clemson's 2021 squad.
"Excited about state championship being back in play," Swinney said. "I think everybody missed it last year. Both sides have the opportunity to get back to the long-standing tradition and college football. So we're going to head down to Columbia and that would be a great game and a great environment–always is when we go down there."
Clemson has won each of the series' last six games, including wins in Columbia in 2015, 2017 and 2019. A Clemson win on Saturday would give the Tigers seven straight wins against the Gamecocks and would tie the 1934-40 Tigers for the longest winning streak by either team in series history. A win would also make Dabo Swinney the first coach on either side to win seven straight games in the series.
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However, Swinney understands how big of a challenge it will be to pick up a seventh straight win, as the Shane Beamer-led Gamecocks are riding high after a bowl-eligibility sealing win last week over the Auburn Tigers.
That it's a good team playing with a lot of confidence playing physical playing with ton of effort," Swinney said. "I think that's a reflection of what Shane has been able to do in a short time.
So a good team that has been able to battle every single week. One of the things that makes them impressive to me is what they've done in the fourth quarter against opponents. You know, they've outscored their opponents or even games where they were down...They've played complete. So I think that again says a lot about what Shane Beamer's been able to do in a short amount of time, but still football team they found a little bit of an identity offensively."
While Saturday's non-conference contest will have no bearing on the ACC Atlantic Division race, Clemson supporters will be watching games on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon with interest. Clemson finished 6-2 in ACC play and can still represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship Game if NC State were to lose to North Carolina on Friday evening and Wake Forest were to lose to Boston College at noon Saturday. Those results would drop NC State to 5-3 in conference play and move Wake Forest to 6-2 in the ACC, which would grant the Tigers the title game berth by virtue of their head-to-head win against the Demon Deacons last week.
But Swinney will not be worrying about the outcomes of those games because there is nothing the Tigers can do about them.
"I mean, you know, I mean, focus on what we control," Swinney said. "That's what we're trying to do and we've done all we can to put ourselves in a position where we were to go into the very last weekend and still have a chance to go to the ACC championship, win the division outright or your co-division champ. I think that's a great accomplishment. for sure. but not something new. We have no control of so we can't focus on wasting energy.
We just need to focus on where we are, what we're trying to do is trying to win the state championship. If it's meant to be it will work out."
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