Nov. 28, 2014
|DATE:||Saturday, November 29|
|STADIUM:||Memorial Stadium (81,500)|
|SERIES:||Clemson leads 65-42-4|
|RADIO:||Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network|
|GAME NOTES:||South Carolina | Clemson|
The 2014 regular season comes to an end when the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5 SEC) travel to Memorial Stadium (81,500) to take on the #23/24 Clemson Tigers (8-3, 6-2 ACC) in the annual Palmetto Bowl on Saturday, November 29. Game time is set for Noon ET. ESPN will televise the game nationally, with Steve Levy and Kelly Stouffer in the booth and Dawn Davenport working the sidelines. The game can also be heard on the Gamecock IMG Network including flagship station, 107.5 FM, “The Game,” with Todd Ellis, Tommy Suggs and Langston Moore handling the call. Mike Morgan and Gary Barnett have the national radio call on Sports USA.
A South Carolina win over Clemson would…
Extend the Gamecocks’ school-record winning streak over the Tigers to six consecutive games. Carolina had won as many as four-straight in the series just once (1951-54) prior to the current five-game winning streak.
Extend the Gamecocks’ winning streak against non-conference opponents to 19-straight games overall and its regular season non-conference streak to 24-straight games.
Give the Gamecocks a three-game winning streak to close out the regular season. The Gamecocks won the final four games of the 2011 season, posted wins in the final five games of the 2012 campaign, and recorded a school-best six consecutive wins to close out the 2013 season.
A LITTLE HISTORY: 2014 marks the 121st season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 108th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 582-552-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 39 games over since that time.
SEC HISTORY: 2014 marks South Carolina’s 23rd year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. Carolina was 37-66-1 (.361) in SEC action from 1992-2004, but is 44-36 (.550) in conference play since Coach Spurrier took the reins, including a 21-11 (.656) mark since 2011.
SENIOR SALUTE: Seventeen seniors will be playing in their final regular season game for the Garnet & Black. The list includes: Rory Anderson, Damiere Byrd, A.J. Cann, Ryland Culbertson, Jordan Diaz, Patrick Fish, Cody Gibson, Sharrod Golightly, Tyler Hull, Nick Jones, Kadetrix Marcus, Connor McLaurin, Sidney Rhodes, Corey Robinson, J.T Surratt, Dylan Thompson and Brison Williams.
CAROLINA VS. CLEMSON: This is the 112th meeting between these two Palmetto State schools in a series that dates back to 1896. The teams have met every year since 1909, making the Carolina-Clemson series the second-longest running consecutively played rivalry in college football at 106 straight meetings, behind only Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (108). The Tigers hold a 65-42-4 advantage, including a 16-10-1 lead in Clemson. However, the Gamecocks have won the last five and six of the last eight meetings. Carolina has won the last two times the teams have met at Memorial Stadium, posting a 29-7 win in 2010 and a 27-17 victory in 2012.
ONE FOR THE THUMB: The Gamecocks have won each of the last five meetings in the series, surpassing the stretch from 1951-54 as the longest Carolina winning streak in the history of this rivalry. The Gamecocks have won each of the last five games by double-digits and a combined score of 155-71.
MAKING HISTORY: A.J. Cann has an opportunity to join T.J. Johnson as the only players in Carolina history to start in four varsity wins over Clemson. Six other players from this year’s senior class – Rory Anderson, Damiere Byrd, Sharrod Golightly, Nick Jones, Connor McLaurin and Brison Williams – have participated in each of the last three games against the Tigers and are trying to finish their careers with a perfect 4-0 mark against Clemson. They would join 11 players from the last two senior classes who accomplished that feat: Reginald Bowens, Justice Cunningham, DeVonte Holloman, T.J. Johnson, Kenny Miles, D.L. Moore, Quin Smith, D.J. Swearinger and Devin Taylor from the class of 2012 and Jimmy Legree and Chaz Sutton from the class of 2013.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: No. 10/9 South Carolina forced a half-dozen Clemson turnovers, turning three of them into touchdowns, as the Gamecocks won for the fifth-straight time over the #6/4 Tigers, 31-17 in Columbia on November 30, 2013. The game was deadlocked at 17 heading into the final period, but Mike Davis scored on a two-yard run to cap a drive that took over six minutes off the clock, then Brandon Wilds scored on a 26-yard pass from Pharoh Cooper to seal the win. Connor Shaw posted 246 yards of total offense, including 94 on the ground, while All-American Kelcy Quarles led the defense with 2.5 sacks. Skai Moore had a fumble recovery and an interception in the contest.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET IN CLEMSON: Steve Spurrier became the winningest coach in Carolina history as the Gamecocks posted a 27-17 win at Clemson on November 24, 2012. Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson went the distance, completing 23-of-41 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns, while defensive end Jadeveon Clowney set stadium and school records with 4.5 sacks to lead the Gamecocks. The Carolina offense rolled up 444 total yards, while the defense limited the high-octane Tiger attack to 328 yards. Ace Sanders caught six passes for a career-high 119 yards, while Bruce Ellington hauled in seven passes for 72 yards and two scores. Clemson held a 14-10 advantage heading into intermission, but the Gamecocks outscored the Tigers, 17-3, in the second half. After rolling up 163 yards on 21 snaps in the first quarter alone, Clemson was limited to 91 yards on just 19 plays throughout the entire second half.
SPURRIER VS. CLEMSON: Steve Spurrier is 7-5 in 12 contests against Clemson. He was 1-2 as the head coach at Duke, and is 6-3 in nine meetings with the Tigers as the Gamecocks’ head coach. He is 3-3 in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
SPURRIER VS. SWINNEY: Steve Spurrier is 5-1 against Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. The Tigers posted a win when the two coaches squared off for the first time in 2008, but Spurrier has won the last five times, outscoring Clemson by a combined score of 155-71.
TIME IS OUR ON SIDE: In the five-game winning streak over Clemson, the Gamecocks have dominated the time of possession. Carolina has had the ball for 186:38 of the clock (37:20/game), compared to just 113:22 for the Tigers (22:40/game).
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: A key factor in the five-game winning streak over Clemson has been the play of the Carolina defense which has logged 21 sacks, including 16 in the last three years.
CAROLINA VS. THE ACC: South Carolina has won four straight and seven of its last eight games against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
NON-CONFERENCE WINS: South Carolina has won 19-straight games against non-conference opponents. Its last non-conference loss came to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Since that loss they have defeated East Carolina (three times), Navy, The Citadel, Clemson (three times), Nebraska, UAB, Wofford, Michigan, North Carolina, UCF, Coastal Carolina, Wisconsin, Furman and South Alabama.
REGULAR SEASON NON-CON WINS: The Gamecocks have posted 24-consecutive regular season victories against non-conference opponents, dating back to the start of the 2009 season. Over the past six seasons, Carolina has logged regular season non-conference wins over Clemson (5 times), East Carolina (3 times), North Carolina State, Florida Atlantic, South Carolina State, Southern Miss, Furman (twice), Troy, Navy, The Citadel, UAB, Wofford, North Carolina, Central Florida, Coastal Carolina and South Alabama.
ROAD WARRIORS: South Carolina is 2-2 on the road this season, and are 14-7 in their last 21 true road contests. Five of the seven road losses in that stretch came to teams ranked in the top 11 in the country: at No. 8 Arkansas in 2011, at No. 9 LSU and No. 3 Florida in 2012, at No. 11 Georgia in 2013, and at No. 5 Auburn this season. They have also lost to a pair of unranked teams in Tennessee (2013) and Kentucky (2014).
FINISH STRONG: The Gamecocks have won their last two games to become bowl-eligible for an 11th-straight season. The Gamecocks have been a strong closer of late. They won the final four games of the 2011 season, the final five games of the 2012 season and a school-best six-consecutive wins to close the 2013 season.
MAKING A POINT: The Gamecocks are averaging 34.8 points per game this season. That would translate to a 13-game mark of 453 points, ahead of the record-setting mark of 443 points scored, set in 2013. The school record for points per game is 36.5, set in 1995 in an 11-game season (401 total points).
THE LAST TIME OUT: The Gamecocks overcame a season-high five turnovers by forcing a season-high five turnovers of their own in a 37-12 win over South Alabama last Saturday in Columbia, making the Gamecocks’ bowl-eligible for an 11th-straight year. Pharoh Cooper had another big day with three catches for 95 yards, including a 73-yard catch, five rushes for 42 yards, and completed his only pass, a seven-yard TD strike to Dylan Thompson. Brison Williams and Skai Moore each had a pair of interceptions, with Williams returning one 21 yards for a score. Elliott Fry was 3-for-3 in field goals, including a career-long 47-yarder.
PICK THIS: Brison Williams and Skai Moore each had a pair of interceptions for Carolina in the win over South Alabama. Carolina came into that contest with just five interceptions through the first 10 games. One of Williams’ picks was returned for a score, his second pick-six of the year.
BETTER D OF LATE: After allowing 1,196 yards (598.0/game) and 12 touchdowns in back-to-back losses to Auburn (551) and Tennessee (645), the Gamecock defense has rebounded, allowing just 567 yards (283.5/game) and two touchdowns in their last two games, wins over Florida (278) and South Alabama (289). Carolina has 11 three-and-outs in the last two games after notching just two in the previous two contests.
RECORD EXTENDED: Elliott Fry has set the school record for consecutive extra points made with 94. He made his first six as a true freshman before missing at Georgia last season. He hit his final 48 of the 2013 season and has connected on all 46 this season. Fry broke Scott Hagler’s mark of 82, set from 1984-86.
THROWIN’ IN THE WIND: Dylan Thompson has taken most every meaningful snap this season. Thompson, a 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, S.C., waited patiently for his turn behind Connor Shaw, the winningest quarterback in school history. It’s already been a big year for Thompson, as he proposed marriage to his girlfriend at midfield in August. Thompson is 9-5 as a starter, is one of only 13 players in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards and one of only 10 players to throw for over 4,000 yards. He needs 142 passing yards to become the eighth player to throw for 5,000 yards in their Gamecock career. He has thrown for over 300 yards in a game five times and has thrown three or more TD passes in a game four times.
1. Steve Taneyhill (1992-95) 62
2. Connor Shaw (2010-12) 56
3. Todd Ellis (1986-89) 49
4. Stephen Garcia (2008-10) 47
5. Anthony Wright (1995-98) 38
Blake Mitchell (2004-07) 38
7. Dylan Thompson (2011-14) 37
THOMPSON IN 2014: Dylan Thompson has completed 60.1 percent of his passes this season (227-for-378) for 3,031 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He ranks first in the SEC and 17th in the country in passing yards per game (275.5), is third in the SEC and 30th in the country in total offense per game (272.6), and his 23 TD passes ranks first in the SEC and 23rd in the country. His best game statistically came when he threw for 402 yards, the fifth-best single-game performance in school history, with a school record-tying five touchdown passes at Auburn. He owns two of the top-10 single-game yards passing in school history:
WHAT A YEAR: Dylan Thompson is on pace for a record-setting season. He has thrown for 3,031 yards and needs just 176 yards to break Todd Ellis’ school record for passing yards in a season and, with a strong finish, could also break Steve Taneyhill’s record for TD passes thrown in a season:
1. Todd Ellis (1987) 3,206
2. Steve Taneyhill (1995) 3,094
3. Stephen Garcia (2010) 3,059
4. Dylan Thompson (2014) 3,031
THOMPSON VS. CLEMSON: Dylan Thompson can become the first Carolina quarterback since Steve Taneyhill (1992, 1994) to win twice in Clemson. Thompson was the starting QB in Carolina’s 27-17 win in Memorial Stadium in 2012. He completed 23-of-41 passes that night for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
BE LIKE MIKE: Junior tailback Mike Davis, a 5-9, 223-pounder from Atlanta, Ga., has rushed 174 times for 888 yards and a team-high nine rushing scores. He is seventh in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 80.7 and is tenth in touchdowns with 10. He has four 100-yard rushing games, posting an 18-carry, 101-yard, 2 TD effort against East Carolina, carrying 22 times for 104 yards and a score against Missouri, going for a career-high 183 yards on 23 carries with three scores at Kentucky, then rumbling for 111 yards and 2 TDs on 18 carries against Furman. He logged the fourth-most single-season rushing yards in school history last season when he rambled for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns. He became the 16th player in school history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a career. Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson standout James Davis.
1. Marcus Lattimore (2010-12) 38
2. George Rogers (1977-80) 31
Harold Green (1986-89) 31
4. Brandon Bennett (1991-94) 27
Andrew Pinnock (1999-02) 27
6. Jeff Grantz (1973-75) 26
7. Cory Boyd (2003-07) 23
8. Jay Lynn Hodgin (1972-74) 22
9. Mike Davis (2012-14) 22
A GRAND PERFORMANCE: Mike Davis needs just 112 yards to become a 1,000-yard rusher this season. Davis, who rushed for 1,183 yards last season, would become just the second player in school history to record more than one 1,000-yard rushing season, joining the great George Rogers, who had three.
IN ELITE COMPANY: Mike Davis has logged 11 100-yard rushing games in his career, tying him with Brandon Bennett, Harold Green and Marcus Lattimore for second on the all-time list behind only George Rogers.
RUNNING WILDS: Brandon Wilds has logged 556 yards on 99 carries this season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He became the 42nd player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in his career. As a true freshman in 2011, he posted three 100-yard rushing games, including 137 against Tennessee, but was injured much of his sophomore campaign. He likes to run against the Vols, as he needed just eight carries to ramble for a career-high 143 yards with two touchdowns against Tennessee this season, for his fourth-career 100-yard game. Included was a career-best 70-yard burst.
THESE FOUR ARE CATCHING ON: The Gamecocks feature four wide receivers that receive the bulk of the action:
An All-SEC Freshman selection last season as both an all-purpose back and return specialist, Pharoh Cooper is the Gamecocks’ top pass catcher with 58 receptions (5.3/game, third in the SEC), for 921 receiving yards (83.7/game, second in the SEC) and eight TDs. He had a breakout game at Vanderbilt, catching 10 passes for 114 yards, surpassed that with a seven-catch, 127-yard, 2 TD effort at Auburn, then went for a career-high 11 receptions for a school record 223 yards and two scores against Tennessee.
Fifth-year senior Nick “Governor Nicky” Jones has been consistent and sometimes overlooked throughout his career. He just has a knack for getting open and catching the ball. He logged his first 100-yard receiving game against Texas A&M, catching five passes for a 113 yards and two scores, including a 69-yard TD reception. He is second on the squad in receptions (38), receiving yards (486) and TD receptions (5).
Junior Shaq Roland is a former “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina, following in the footsteps of Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney. He came on strong at the end of the 2013 season, posting a career-high 112 receiving yards in the 2014 Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin. This season, he had a career-high seven catches for 94 yards against East Carolina and has 23 catches for 330 yards and four scores.
Senior Damiere Byrd (5-9, 170) is the fastest Gamecock. He has nine career receptions of 40 yards or more, including a 46-yard TD catch against Texas A&M, is a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, is a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy and was a captain on the Gamecocks’ track & field squad. This season he had four catches at Kentucky, while two of his 16 receptions have gone for touchdowns.
SUPER COOPER: Sophomore wide receiver Pharoh Cooper had one of the top games recorded by a Gamecock against Tennessee. The 5-11, 201-pounder from Havelock, N.C. caught a career-high 11 passes for a school record 233 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 23 yards and a score, and completed 1-of-2 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown. He became the first Gamecock since Connor Shaw in the 2014 Capital One Bowl to account for touchdowns via the run, pass and catch. In addition, he recovered the Vols’ onside kick attempt late in the contest, that appeared to have sealed the win. Working out of the Wildcat formation, he has thrown two TD passes this season.
1. Alshon Jeffery (2010) 1,517
2. Sidney Rice (2005) 1,143
3. Sterling Sharpe (1986) 1,106
4. Sidney Rice (2006) 1,090
5. Kenny McKinley (2007) 968
6. Pharoh Cooper (2014) 921
7. Sterling Sharpe (1987) 915
8. Zola Davis (1995) 911
9. Kenny McKinley (2006) 880
10. Troy Williamson (2004) 835
1. Alshon Jeffery (2010) 88
2. Kenny McKinley (2007) 77
3. Sterling Sharpe (1986) 74
4. Sidney Rice (2006) 72
5. Sidney Rice (2005) 70
6. Sterling Sharpe (1987) 62
Stanley Pritchett (1995) 62
8. Fred Zeigler (1968) 59
9. Zola Davis (1995) 58
Pharoh Cooper (2014) 58
1. Sidney Rice (2005) 13
2. Sterling Sharpe (1986) 10
Monty Means (1995) 10
Jermale Kelly (1997) 10
Sidney Rice (2006) 10
6. Zola Davis (1995) 9
Kenny McKinley (2007) 9
Alshon Jeffery (2010) 9
Ace Sanders (2012) 9
10. Mike Haggard (1972) 8
Alshon Jeffery (2011) 8
Bruce Ellington (2013) 8
Pharoh Cooper (2014) 8
TOUTING THE TIGHT ENDS: Senior Rory “Busta” Anderson suffered a torn triceps muscle in the win over Furman, but returned against Florida. He is an All-SEC candidate and is on the John Mackey Midseason Watch List. Anderson has averaged 15.7 yards per catch with nine TDs in his career. Junior Jerell Adams picked up the slack in Anderson’s absence. Adams has hauled in 14 passes in the last five games. Adams has averaged 16.8 yards per catch with four scores in his career. He had the best game of his career against Furman, with three catches for 91 yards, including a 45-yard TD.
CANN DO: Senior left guard A.J. Cann, an All-America candidate, made his 49th career start against South Alabama and is slated to make his 50th career start at Clemson. He is second on the Gamecocks’ all-time list behind only T.J. Johnson.
THE SKAI’S THE LIMIT: Skai Moore led the Gamecocks in both tackles (56) and interceptions (4) as a true freshman in 2013, despite starting just four games. This season, he is tied for the team lead in tackles (72), is second on the squad with two interceptions, and was named to Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC second team. He has led the team in tackles five times with seven stops against East Carolina, a career-best 10 vs. Georgia, nine more tackles at Kentucky, eight at Auburn and nine vs. South Alabama. He also had a pair of interceptions against South Alabama.
LEADER IN THE SECONDARY: Senior Brison Williams is the unquestioned leader in the secondary. The 5-11, 208-pound senior from Warner Robins, Ga., has played both safety positions during his Gamecock career, and has spent the bulk of the 2014 season at cornerback. He has started 35 times in his career, second on the squad. He has 29 tackles, including 23 solo stops, owns four of the team’s nine interceptions and has a team-high six pass breakups. He turned the Vandy game with his 53-yard interception return for a TD and had another pick-six against South Alabama. His four picks ties for third in the SEC. No Gamecock has had more than four interceptions in a season since Ko Simpson had six in 2004.
THE FRISCO KID: Elliott Fry, a midseason first-team All-SEC selection by Phil Steele, missed his only field goal try in the opener against A&M (from 54 yards out) before hitting each of his next 12 attempts. He is 16-for-20 on the season, with two of the Lou Groza semifinalist’s misses coming from beyond 50 yards. His 81.6 career field goal percentage (31-of-38) ranks sixth all-time in the SEC. He went 4-for-4 against East Carolina, accounting for 15 points while earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He hit a career-long 47-yarder against South Alabama. He is third in the SEC with 16 field goals and is second in the league in points scored by kicking, averaging 8.5 per game. Fry walked on to the squad last summer and earned the starting placekicking chores. The Frisco, Texas product who also deals with Type 1 diabetes, went 15-for-18 in field goal attempts and hit 54-of-55 extra point attempts for a team-leading 99 points, earning Freshman All-SEC accolades. The point total was the fourth-highest single-season mark in school history. He has made a school record 94 consecutive extra points.
1. Marcus Lattimore (2010) 114
2. Collin Mackie (1987) 113
3. Spencer Lanning (2010) 102
4. Elliott Fry (2013) 99
5. Harold Green (1987) 96
6. Elliott Fry (2014) 94
7. Ryan Succop (2008) 90
8. Ryan Succop (2006) 85
9. George Rogers (1980) 84
10. Collin Mackie (1988) 82
Adam Yates (2012) 82
POINTS SCORED – CAREER
1. Collin Mackie (1987-90) 330
2. Ryan Succop (2005-08) 251
3. Marcus Lattimore (2010-12) 246
4. George Rogers (1977-80) 202
5. Reed Morton (1993-96) 201
6. Harold Green (1986-89) 198
7. Scott Hagler (1983-86) 195
8. Elliott Fry (2013-14) 193 9. Mark Fleetwood (1981-83) 186
Dan Weaver (2001-03) 186
HULL OF A PUNTER: Senior Tyler Hull, who was on the Ray Guy Watch List, handles the punting chores for Carolina for a third-straight season. He averaged 39.4 yards as a sophomore and 37.8 yards as a junior. He is having his best season to date, punting 33 times for a 41.5-yard average.
EVERY TIME OUT: The Gamecocks have had six players start every game this season. On offense, LT Corey Robinson, LG A.J. Cann, RT Brandon Shell and QB Dylan Thompson have made every start. On defense, DT J.T. Surratt, and DB Brison Williams have been starters in each contest.