DJ Uiagalelei is about to get his first real taste of what the rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina is all about.
With the two teams not playing for the first time in more than a century during Uiagalelei's freshman season, the quarterback has yet to take part in the Palmetto Bowl. However, he is fully aware of the magnitude surrounding this game.
"It means a lot, it means a lot to us here in the program, but it means a lot to a lot of people here in the state of South Carolina," Uiagalelei said. "It's a big part of why I wanted to come here. To be able to play in big rivalry games like this. I just know this game means a lot to more people than just me. More people than just the program, so it's a very important game."
Growing up on the west coast, the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry was something that Uiagalelei wasn't very familiar with. Although, the quarterback did get a small snapshot of what the rivalry entails during a recruiting visit back in 2018 when he watched the Tigers knock off the Gamecocks 56-35.
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"Being from California I don't know too much about it," Uiagalelei said. "I remember my first game coming here on a visit was up against South Carolina. It was a home game, I think when Jake Bentley was quarterback. Super high-scoring game. I just know it's a huge rivalry."
Over the weekend, Uiagalelei helped guide the Clemson offense to its most complete performance of the season in a 48-27 win over then No. 10 Wake Forest. The Tigers had 543 yards of total offense, with 333 of those coming on the ground.
"That was definitely our best game, we were all clicking on all cylinders," Uiagalelei said. "It just felt good man. I think that was the main thing, it just felt fun. Everyone had a great time out there just playing the game, just scoring touchdowns and moving the ball. It just felt good. We just been waiting for that and it felt amazing after the game, all turned up in the locker room. Just felt good to be able to go win like that."
Now the Clemson will look to carry that momentum over into the matchup with the Gamecocks. The offense has faced its share of struggles on the road this season, and will venture into the most hostile environment the team has seen this season.
"I've heard a lot about their fans," Uiagalelei said. "I heard it's a great atmosphere down there. I mean, it's loud, it's a real hostile environment, but I'm really excited to go down and just be able to play against South Carolina."
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