If head coach Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers wanted to make a statement against their arch rival, that statement was clear and precise.
A 35-point first half for the #4 Clemson Tigers was a part of an onslaught as they defeated their rival South Carolina Gamecocks by a score of 56-7. Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson led the way for Clemson as he threw for 347 yards and tied his career-high with six touchdown passes, three which were hauled in by receiver Mike Williams.
Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina is known as one of the best college atmospheres in all of college football. This was the first home game for the Tigers since losing at home 43-42 to unranked Pittsburgh two weeks ago and the raucous crowd fueled an instate rivalry that is predicated off true “dislike” on both sides.
Once Clemson got on the board first with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Williams, the avalanche of scoring from the Tigers soon followed. Three touchdown passes by Watson was the scoring in the first quarter for Clemson as they took an early 21-0 lead.
A 16-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Williams with eight seconds remaining in the first half thrust the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 ACC) to a commanding 35-0 lead.
The Gamecocks (6-6, 3-5 SEC) entered the game with a first-year head coach in Will Muschamp and a young offense, in particular at quarterback with their true freshman quarterback in Jake Bentley. The young quarterback had a rough time on the night with the swarming Clemson defense as he completed 7-of-17 passes for 41 yards and an interception. The Tigers defense held South Carolina to just 218 total yards of offense on the night and 4-of-13 on third down.
The passing disparity for both teams stood out as well as Clemson averaged 10.6 yards per pass compared to just 3.7 for the Gamecocks.
Contributions from Williams (six catches, 100 yards, and three TDs) as well as starting running back Wayne Gallman (19 carries, 112 yards, TD) were for the most part made in the first half as Swinney slowly inserted backups after halftime. The Gamecocks finally got on the board thanks to a trick play in which receiver Deebo Samuel connected with freshman receiver Bryan Edwards for 33 yards to trim the deficit to 42-7 in the third quarter.
The win for Clemson gives Tigers their third straight win over South Carolina in the Palmetto Bowl series.