For the first time since 2009, South Carolina fans must relinquish bragging rights. The Gamecocks lost to the Clemson Tigers 35-17 today, breaking its five-year winning streak and capping a disappointing .500 regular season. The young South Carolina defense displayed the same kind of issues that plagued them most of the season, allowing 491 total yards (more than 8 YPP). While the pass/run yard allowance seems balanced (266 passing, 225 rushing) it's worth noting that 123 of those pass yards came from identical Artavis Scott shovel sweeps—receptions, technically, but basically glorified runs. I mention this not to take away from Watson, but to illustrate that Carolina simply couldn't stop the run, especially around the edges, and the result was not good.
Meanwhile, the offense never settled in against Clemson's top-ranked defense. Dylan Thompson was 21/39 for 249 yards and a touchdown, but his accuracy and decision-making was often woeful. The Clemson pass rush consistently rattled the Gamecocks and Thompson, who was sacked 4 times. Clemson tallied up 14 tackles for loss in total, padding their national lead in that category.
South Carolina actually opened the scoring with a Pharoh Cooper 20 yard touchdown run, but Clemson would go on to score touchdowns on 3 of its next four drives and hold the Gamecocks to just a field goal in the next 38 minutes. The second half was characterized by missed opportunities for South Carolina's offense. The Gamecocks failed to score from 1st and goal inside the 5 yard line, then turned the ball over on downs again the next drive, also while in Clemson territory.
Worth noting: Dylan Thompson did become the single-season passing leader in program history, an achievement which I'd imagine is bringing him little to no solace right now.
Plenty of time to pick this game apart in the week upcoming. For now, go do something fun.