Whatever chance No. 6 Clemson had of making an at-large BCS bowl was probably ended tonight as in-state nemesis No. 10 South Carolina beat the Tigers for the fifth-straight time, 31-17, in Columbia.
With the win, the Gamecocks improved to 10-2 while Clemson fell to 10-2. South Carolina’s regular season is now over as Missouri’s victory over Texas A&M gives the Tigers the SEC East title.
As has usually been the case with South Carolina this year, Connor Shaw was The Man. The senior quarterback continued his fine season, throwing for 152 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 94 yards and a score. The Gamecocks didn’t gain a lot of yards — just 318 in all — but they took advantage of Tiger turnovers to win in solid fashion.
For Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, it was a rough ending to a fine career. He finished with 225 yards passing and rushed for one touchdown but he threw two fourth quarter interceptions that squelched any chance the Tigers had of coming back.
Can Clemson ever get over the hump? The Boyd Era was a very successful one, with three 10-win seasons, but until Dabo Swinney figures out how to beat South Carolina, the program will be seen as going sideways rather than progressing.
As for South Carolina, it can get to three-straight 11-win seasons with a victory in its bowl game, the first time that has happened in school history.