Howard's Rock, the Orange Uniforms, C-L-E-M-S-O (long pause)-N! If those three seemingly random things make you cringe, you're more than likely a South Carolina football fan. If you've ever stopped at a sporting goods store anywhere in the Palmetto state you've more than likely seen memorabilia for both teams filling the vast store shelves, orange shirts, hats, flags, cups, sunglasses, bumper stickers, among other memorabilia fill up a giant portion of the store, only to be countered by garnet and black South Carolina merchandise of the same sort on the opposite side. It's one of college football's most passionate and intense rivalries, and by winning their annual game against the Tigers, South Carolina can win a huge in-state and even a national recruiting advantage.
Let's be honest, Clemson and South Carolina are two programs headed in completely opposite directions. The Tigers spent the majority of the 2015 season as the #1 team in the nation, went unbeaten in the regular season, won the Orange Bowl, and almost beat the mighty Nick Saban and Alabama. On the flip side, South Carolina limped to the end of the 2015 campaign, Spurrier resigned, and the program hit their lowest point in several years by losing to The Citadel. Clemson is surging, South Carolina is rebuilding, looking to re-capture its prominence and glory days that have seemingly slipped away.
But, even through all of the negative, South Carolina played Clemson solid in a head to head match-up. On paper, the Tigers should've eaten the Gamecocks for lunch, it should've been a cupcake victory, but then again, it wasn't. South Carolina led for portions of the game and only fell by five points. The game was competitive, wide-open and overall fun.
Now, it would be naive to think that one game is going to fix the entire program, it won't. That being said, beating Clemson is one of the best things the Gamecocks can do to sway in-area talent to make Columbia their home. Having a victory against your main recruiting opponent can only help in discussions with potential talent.
Realistically, USC won't beat Clemson this year, or next year, or maybe not even three years from now, but once Muschamp's staff gets their first full classes of talent developed, the expectation will eventually become that the Gamecocks should beat Clemson every year. A victory over Clemson could help propel the Gamecocks in many ways. First off, like it or not, Clemson is considered a national power and will be a contender almost every year. A victory of their neighboring rivals would bring national attention back to Columbia. More national attention means more games on national TV and more recruits potentially considering South Carolina. Locally, it means bragging rights and is a way of establishing superiority of the teams in the immediate vicinity of your school.
Beating your rivals will always be a staple of college football lore, but beating Clemson is by far one of the most important things Muschamp and South Carolina can do to get back on track. Scoring a trademark victory against Clemson may be the official signal that USC football is back to where it used to be.