COLUMBIA — The Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks met Saturday in Williams Brice Stadium for the 113th renewal of the Palmetto Bowl.
The Tigers, despite several key errors on the day, took care of business with a 37-32 victory to remain undefeated for the fourth time in school history.
The Tigers now face North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, N.C. Kickoff is set for either 7:45 p.m. or 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at Bank of America Stadium. It will be televised by ABC or ESPN.
The Gamecocks did not make it easy on the Tigers. South Carolina did Saturday what they failed to do all year — they played 60 minutes of football and proved they could hang with the nation’s top ranked team.
The Clemson defense looked stout early on against the run, but quarterback Lorenzo Nunez put the Gamecocks on his back several times. Nunez would set up the only South Carolina score in the first half when he stepped out of a tackle and scampered through the Clemson defense for 47 yards.
In the second half, Perry Orth would find his rhythm and receivers Pharoh Cooper and Deebo Samuel as he led the Gamecocks to three consecutive touchdown drives. It would not be enough, though, and Orth would get nothing on their next two drives.
The Tigers looked much like they have the second half of the season. Watson moved the ball seemingly at will and Clemson would only punt three times on the day. The Tigers problems were largely turnovers and they lost three fumbles and had another fumble negated when replay ruled the runner down.
Despite the turnovers, Clemson would pile up 236 rushing yards on their way to an eighth consecutive game with over 500 yards of offense. Deshaun Watson again had a performance to remember with 279 passing yards and a touchdown to go along with 114 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Wayne Gallman would also pick up his seventh 100-yard rushing game.
The loss leaves the Gamecocks at 3-9 on the season and again looking like they will be rebuilding next year. With Pharoh Cooper declaring for the NFL and eight seniors graduating, South Carolina will lose 51 percent of their total offensive yards from this year and 57 percent of their touchdowns.
Clemson tied its school record for consecutive victories with Saturday’s win. The Tigers have now won 15 in a row dating to last year, the same streak Clemson had from 1947-49. Clemson has the longest active winning streak in the nation.
Saturday’s win was Clemson’s 50th all-time victory over South Carolina in Columbia. That includes a 31-20-2 mark in games played in Williams-Brice Stadium. Clemson has a 50-32-3 lead in the series in games played in Columbia and a 67-42-4 lead overall.
The Tigers are now 12-0 for the season. The only other year Clemson won 12 games was 1981 when the Tigers were 12-0 in winning the National Championship. Clemson will have the opportunity to establish the school record for wins in a season next week at the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina in Charlotte.
Clemson is now 44-7 over the last four years. It is the most victories in a four-year period in Clemson history.
Dabo Swinney is now 73-26 in his Clemson head coaching career. He moved ahead of Tommy Bowden into third place on the Clemson coaching victories list with Saturday’s win. Bowden was 72-45 between 1999-08. The only coaches with more are Frank Howard (165) and Danny Ford (96).
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.