The Clemson-South Carolina Rivalry is without a doubt one of the biggest in the South and in all of college football. Every year, Clemson and South Carolina fans alike talk trash to each other all year, waiting for that fateful day in November when these two teams are able to clash and truly call themselves as the superior over the other in order to obtain the ultimate reward: a year of bragging rights and the state title.
Perhaps the most memorable game in this rivalry for all Clemson fans alike is the 2003 game against the Gamecocks, one of the few memorable games in the Tommy Bowden era that fans liked before he would resign only five years later. It's also one of the most memorable for Tiger fans to stick it to former South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz, who was not held in high regard in the eyes of any Clemson fan.
In this game,, Bowden was on the hot seat once again. Coming in the game with seven wins, and having just come off of a 45-17 pounding against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, the Tigers were calling once again for Bowden's head over his inability to win the big games when they needed him to. This rivalry game would be Bowden's chance to win the fanbase back over and show athletic director Terry Don Philips and the board of trustees that he deserved to stick around for another year. He would get that chance under the bright lights of Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.
Anyway, we just remember Clemson drawing first blood thanks to a great touchdown catch by Derrick Hamilton from Charlie Whitehurst, only a sophomore at that time. After some stalled drives, Whitehurst threw yet another touchdown to make it 14-0, and the first quarter has yet to end. And then, in the blink of an eye, with about five minutes left, Whitehurst throws yet another touchdown pass to widen the gap by three scores, and ended the first quarter with a 21-0 score.
From there, the Tigers did not look back. They would only score 14 more points in the second quarter, but we laughed, cheered, and jeered all the while as we watched the disgust and horror of all the fans in Williams Brice Stadium as we took a 35-10 lead into halftime, while all the while we all secretly hoped that Tommy Bowden didn't somehow blow the lead and make us lose this game. That's the kind of state of mind the Bowden era had us in during his tenure in Tigertown.
Is this the best memory of the Clemson-South Carolina Rivalry?
But, our fears were quickly put to rest as Charlie Whitehurst took a bit of a backseat in the third quarter, as the running backs ran wild and scored all 21 third quarter points for the Tigers. The Tigers would then let up (unfortunately) in the fourth quarter, scoring only one touchdown.
Final Score: Clemson - 63, South Carolina - 17
Clemson presently leads the series overall at 65-39-4.
If you want to stick around for a while as a head coach at Clemson, you'd better be a chicken killer.
It was, and always will be, the best Clemson-South Carolina matchup of that decade, considering the fact that Clemson scored at will, and the fact that both Clemson and South Carolina fans know that Clemson could have made it much worse had Bowden not called off the dogs in the fourth quarter.
While Bowden was never truly a favorite among fans, what kept his job safe for so long was his ability to beat South Carolina year in and year out. Clemson fans are always critical of Bowden for not making it worse on their in-state rivals. Those kinds of games do not come along often, and in my opinion, you take full advantage of the opportunity to score as many points as you possibly can.
You're not playing for any kind of championship, ACC or otherwise. What have you got to lose?
They held control over the entire game, and we thoroughly enjoyed watching the Gamecocks fall apart at the seams, and watch as Holtz neared the end of his time with the Gamecocks, as he would retire that next year: the year of the orange and garnet brawl between the Gamecocks and the Tigers in Death Valley in Clemson, South Carolina.
This 2003 in-state rivalry game was easily one of the most solid orange games I have ever seen Clemson play in the Tommy Bowden Era, which had more downs than ups in those 10 long years.
What is your best memory of this long standing Tiger-Gamecock rivalry?