ACC Football: South Carolina 34, Clemson 17
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier still has a few of those Heisman Trophy moves.
Gamecocks captain Moe Brown and fellow senior Garrett Anderson chased an elusive Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman winner at Florida, with a water bucket and eventually doused their coach after beating rival No. 15 Clemson 34-17 Saturday.
Spurrier’s rule is save such showers for championships. Even the head ball coach had to smile when Brown pointed out the Gamecocks won the Palmetto State title.
“I figured I only got one game left, he can’t be too mad at me,” Brown said. “We said we won the state championship and he gave me a hug.”
“That was a big win,” Brown said. “We needed it.”
Besides short-circuiting another late-season swoon, the Gamecocks (7-5) most likely earned a bid to one of the Southeastern Conference’s mid-tier bowls like the Music City or Chick-fil-A.
“It was a wonderful win,” Spurrier said.
And it came mostly because South Carolina’s defense slowed a Tigers attack that had averaged more than 40 points and 415 yards during its six-game win streak.
Clemson’s run brought it an ACC Atlantic Division crown and a spot in next week’s league title game against Georgia Tech.
The Tigers (8-4) had few answers for South Carolina’s rested and raring-to-go defenders.
Clemson star C.J. Spiller had his NCAA record-setting seventh career kickoff return touchdown to start the game. He managed only 18 yards on the ground after that.
Spiller battled an illness throughout, saying he felt sick to his stomach. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Spiller “tweaked” his groin but should be fine by next week.
By the end, backups Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper did most of the backfield work.
“It’s better for another guy to be out there than for me to be out there not giving it my all,” Spiller said.
Stephen Garcia threw three touchdown passes as South Carolina put a temporary halt to Clemson’s series dominance.
Clemson had won two straight, six out of seven and 10 of 12 against the Gamecocks, who had only one victory over the Tigers in the last 10 games at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Clemson had just 260 yards of offense. Spiller finished with 18 yards rushing and 19 receiving.
South Carolina fans chanted “S-E-C” as the outcome became clear.
The Tigers head into next week’s championship with several questions to answer. No. 1 among them: What happened to the offense?
Swinney says the team will respond with character and hard work.
“Our next goal is to try and win the ACC,” Swinney said. “We will turn the page.”
After Spiller struck for his 88-yard kickoff return just 20 seconds in ó it was his fourth such score this season ó the orange-clad fans among the 80,574 in the stands had little reason to doubt it’d be another day to celebrate.
But the Tigers had only 138 yards through three quarters.