Clemson Tigers Clinch Undefeated Season with Win over South Carolina Gamecocks

Nov 30, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) celebrates a touchdown reception against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Nov. 30, the South Carolina Gamecocks took to their home field for the last time in the 2019 season, which was also the last time several of South Carolina’s players would suit up as Gamecocks. Among the class of seniors are Rico Dowdle, T.J. Brunson, and Javon Kinlaw. It was announced Monday that senior quarterback Jake Bentley, who had been out with a foot injury since Week 1, had also suited up for his last time as he plans to transfer as a graduate student next season. The defending champion Clemson Tigers solidly handled the Gamecocks and won the annual Palmetto Bowl for the sixth year in a row, holding South Carolina to a single field goal while winning, 38-3.

The Gamecocks deferred possession to the Tigers in the opening drive and were able to hold them at the end zone for four downs to stop Clemson from putting a touchdown on the board in the opening drive. This would end up being the best defensive moment of the entire game.

South Carolina’s opening drive ended with a turnover after Derion Kendrick intercepted Ryan Hilinski’s pass on the third down and took it for a 14-yard return. Clemson capitalized on the interception and put the first points up when Trevor Lawrence connected with Tee Higgins for a 10-yard touchdown, making it 7-0.  Lawrence again connected with Higgins on the very next drive, this time for a 65-yard touchdown pass, and the Tigers ended the first quarter on top, 14-0.

The two teams traded downs in their next possessions, and South Carolina finally put points on the board in their second possession of the quarter when Parker White finished out a 15-play drive that lasted just over seven minutes with a 39-yard field goal kick. This would ultimately be the only score of the game for South Carolina.

Clemson put one more touchdown and a field goal on the board before halftime as Lawrence connected with Justyn Ross for a 16-yard touchdown and B.T. Potter ended the half with a 46-yard field goal as time expired. Clemson led 24-3 going into the locker room at the end of the first half.

South Carolina opened the second half with possession of the ball, but this offensive line was no match for the Clemson defense as the Tigers forced the Gamecocks to go three-and-out in their first two drives of the quarter.

Clemson opened their first drive of the third quarter with another touchdown after South Carolina was hit with two penalties, one of which put Tigers at the goal line and Travis Etienne took it for the two-yard touchdown rush, extending Clemson’s lead to 31-3. The teams traded downs for the remainder of the quarter and the score remained unchanged going into the final frame.

Clemson was in possession of the ball when the fourth quarter started, and the Tigers finished out the drive by putting their final touchdown of the game on the board just seven seconds into the fourth quarter as Etienne again took the ball into the end zone for a three-yard rushing touchdown. Clemson had a 35-point lead at this point. The score remain unchanged and the Tigers secured their sixth Palmetto Bowl victory in as many years.

In the days following the game, some fan favorites declared their intention to return next year, including Shi Smith and Sadarius Hutcherson. Some coaching changes also took place. The strength and conditioning and quarterback coaches were let go while the offensive coordinator was demoted, but it is still unclear what the future holds for head coach, Will Muschamp, as a multi-million dollar buyout to release him from his contract looms.

The Gamecocks ended the season 4-8 with their biggest win coming over the ranked Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Ga., only winning conference games against the two Tennessee schools in the SEC, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

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