Well, maybe this really is a New Carolina. The Gamecocks turned in a nearly flawless performance against our hated rivals, whipping Clemson by a score of 34-17. This was a truly dominant outing by Carolina; Clemson moved the ball very little until they managed a score late in the game against our prevent defense, and even then we hit them right back with a late Weslye Saunders touchdown that had more to do with pride than any actual influence on the outcome of the game. The box score says it all. We outgained the Tigers by over 100 yards, we had seven more first downs, we averaged much more yardage per play; the list could go on. It was a great afternoon to be a Gamecock.
This win gives this team some momentum going into the offseason and recruiting stretch. The Peach Bowl is now a possibility. I suspect Chick-fil-A will go with UGA in the end, but I still have my hopes. Even if we don't get Atlanta, though, Nashville, the Music City Bowl, and a likely matchup with UNC will serve as a fine consolation prize. This win will also undoubtedly pay off on the recruiting trail. We've always had to struggle against the fact that Clemson has owned us in this series while trying to make our case to the local high school talent. This year, though, Spurrier will have a case for us.
All in all, the win was a huge one for Spurrier in general. The fanbase is now reenergized and onboard with Spurrier. If Spurrier takes us to a strong finish, recruits well, and convinces our star juniors to stick around, there will be a lot to be excited about next year. The mood surrounding the program right now is just a lot different than last year. It's been a trying year at times, but overall, I think it was something of a success.
A few more thoughts on the game after the jump.
- Spurrier clearly understood the gravity of this game, as he came in ready to throw the kitchen sink at the Tigers. We saw trick plays, the Wildcat, and a general tendency to go for the jugular. Well done, coach. The TD to Saunders at the end of the game was a huge statement.
- There's really nothing that can't be said about Stephon Gilmore right now. What a performance.
- Same goes for Spencer Lanning, one of this game's unsung heros.
- Apparently, we can run the ball. The endgame actually played out much like what I feared the Tigers might do to us: we stuck to the run, punched Clemson in the nose as their defensive interior tired, and walked away with the victory. Gameballs go to our offensive line, which played its best game in years, and Kenny Miles and Brian Maddox, who both played well.
- The defense was simply dominant. Clemson really didn't move the ball at all until the game was mostly out of their reach in the fourth quarter. It was very clear that they weren't ready for such a speedy defense.
I'm sure I'll have more to say about this game over the course of the week. For now, let's just enjoy it. This was a quality performance.