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Palmetto Bowl Set for Saturday Night
Football  . 

Palmetto Bowl Set for Saturday Night

The South Carolina Gamecocks (5-6, 3-5 SEC) wrap up their 2023 regular season when they host the Clemson Tigers (7-4, 4-4 ACC) on Saturday, Nov. 25, in the Palmetto Bowl. Game time is set for 7:30 pm ET and the contest will be televised on the SEC Network. Both teams come into the contest riding a three-game winning streak. The Gamecocks need a win to become bowl-eligible for the third time in as many years under head coach Shane Beamer. Both teams are unranked, but the Tigers are receiving votes in both national polls.

PLAYING FOR A POINT: A win in the Palmetto Bowl is worth another point in the Palmetto Series, sponsored by the South Carolina Education Lottery. Carolina has won the Palmetto Series trophy in each of the five years it’s been contested. South Carolina leads this year’s competition 2.5-1.5. South Carolina earned wins in volleyball and women’s basketball, while Clemson took a point in men’s soccer. The women’s soccer teams battled to a scoreless tie.

Palmetto Bowl: Football vs Clemson

South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina Gamecocks
Clemson Tigers
Clemson Tigers
Williams-Brice Stadium | Columbia, S.C.

OVER THE AIRWAVES: This week’s contest will be televised on the SEC Network. Taylor Zarzour will provide the play-by play while Matt Stinchcomb adds the color commentary. Carolina grad Alyssa Lang will handle the sideline duties for the Network. The Gamecock Sports Radio Network features a pair of Gamecock Great quarterbacks in Todd Ellis (32nd season) and Tommy Suggs (51st season) in the booth. Chet Tucker is in his first season as the sideline reporter.

SENIOR SALUTE: South Carolina will recognize its senior football players prior to this week’s contest. The seniors expected to participate in the pregame ceremony include Mario Anderson, Ahmarean Brown, Marcellas Dial, B.J. Gibson, Tonka Hemingway, Alex Herrera, Tyreek Johnson, Dakereon Joyner, Xavier Legette, Eddie Lewis, Spencer Rattler, Ben Rollins, Jesse Sanders, Jordan Strachan and D.J. Twitty.

GAMECOCK REWIND: The Gamecocks are 5-6 overall in 2023. Four of their six losses came to teams ranked in the AP Top-25 while five of the six losses have come away from Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina opened the season falling to No. 21 North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte, before posting a convincing win over FCS nationally-ranked Furman. The Gamecocks dropped their SEC opener at Georgia but evened their mark at 2-2 with a home win over Mississippi State. The Gamecocks dropped their next four, all conference games, losing at No. 21 Tennessee, surrendering a 10-point fourth quarter lead in a home loss to Florida, then dropping decisions at No. 20 Missouri and at Texas A&M. Carolina has rebounded with three-straight wins over Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt and Kentucky to keep its bowl hopes alive. The Gamecocks have been led all season by Spencer Rattler and Xavier Legette. Rattler has completed 259-of-367 passes for 3,074 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He ranks fourth in the SEC and 16th in the nation with 279.5 passing yards per game and is fourth in the SEC and eighth in the country with a 70.6 percent completion rate. Legette has caught 65 passes for 1,187 yards, averaging 107.9 yards per game and 18.3 yards per catch with seven touchdowns. He ranks second in the league and seventh among all FBS players in receiving yards per game and is fifth in the SEC and 23rd in the country in yards per reception.

CAROLINA VERSUS CLEMSON: This is the 120th meeting between these two Palmetto State schools in a rivalry that dates back to 1896. The teams met every year from 1909 – 2019, making the Carolina-Clemson series the second-longest running consecutively-played series in college football behind only Minnesota – Wisconsin before the series was interrupted in 2020 due to COVID. The Tigers hold a 72-43-4 lead in the all-time series, including a 53-32-3 advantage in Columbia and a 19-11-1 mark in Clemson. South Carolina snapped a Clemson seven-game winning streak last year in Tigertown by a 31-30 score.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: The Gamecocks overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Clemson, 31-30 in the final regular season game of the 2022 season on Nov. 26 in Clemson. Spencer Rattler completed 25-of-39 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns, Antwane Wells Jr. had nine catches for 131 yards and two scores and Mitch Jeter hit the go-ahead field goal with just under 11 minutes left in the contest. Marcellas Dial was the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording an interception and three pass breakups. He allowed just one catch for 11 yards while being targeted 11 times. But the star of the game may have been Carolina punter Kai Kroeger, who averaged 53.7 yards on seven punts, pinning the Tigers deep in their own territory several times. The Carolina defense held Clemson to just 336 yards of offense, including 99 through the air, and forced three turnovers.

STREAK BUSTERS: South Carolina broke a number of Clemson streaks with its 31-30 victory over the Tigers last November:
* Clemson had won 40 consecutive home games dating to the 2016 season, tied for the eighth longest home winning streak in FBS college history and the longest by since 1991-98 (Nebraska-47). It ended the fourth-longest home winning streak in college football history by one coach.
* Ended Clemson’s 34-game home winning streak against Power-5 Conference schools.
* Ended Clemson’s 26-game home non-conference winning streak. South Carolina has the victory at both ends of that streak, having beaten the Tigers at Death Valley in 2012.
* Ended Clemson’s streak of 72-consecutive wins when gaining at least 200 yards rushing. The streak dated to the 2009 season.
* Ended Clemson’s 67-game winning streak when leading going into the fourth quarter.
* Ended Clemson’s 63-game winning streak when recording more first downs.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE: Will Shipley ran for 128 yards and a touchdown, BT Potter booted three field goals, and the Clemson defense pitched a shutout in a 30-0 Tiger win in Columbia on Nov. 27, 2021.

THEY ONCE WORE ORANGE: Carolina wide receivers coach Justin Stepp served as a Clemson graduate assistant from 2009-11. Gamecocks’ Director of High School Relations, Clyde Wrenn, worked as the football recruiting coordinator at Clemson for 11 seasons.

A South Carolina win over Clemson would…
* Send the Gamecocks to a bowl game for the third-straight year under head coach Shane Beamer.
* Extend the Gamecocks’ winning streak to four games, their longest of the season and matching the longest in the Shane Beamer Era at South Carolina.
* Give the Gamecocks back-to-back wins over Clemson for the first time since they won five in a row from 2009-13.
* Allow Carolina to finish the regular season .500 or better in three straight years for the first time since 2016-18.
* Allow Carolina to finish the 2023 season with a 6-1 home record. The last time it won that many games at home in a season was in 2013 (7-0).
* Allow Carolina to post a perfect 4-0 record in November for the first time since 2013.

A LITTLE HISTORY: 2023 marks the 130th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 117th-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 634-612-44, a .509 winning percentage. Since the start of the 21st century, Carolina is 168-130, a .564 mark.

SCHEDULING QUIRK: South Carolina played its final road game of the regular season in the last week of October at Texas A&M. The Gamecocks’ final four games were all scheduled for Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia during the month of November. South Carolina is the only school in the FBS to have each of its final four games of the 2023 regular season at home.

THEY REMEMBER NOVEMBER: The Gamecocks are 3-0 in the month of November, have won their last five games in November dating back to last season and are 8-3 in November during the Shane Beamer Era at South Carolina. The last time South Carolina went 4-0 in the month of November was in 2013.

WILLY-B IS SPECIAL AT NIGHT: The Gamecocks are 11-2 and have won eight in a row when playing a night game at Williams-Brice Stadium under head coach Shane Beamer. The two losses both came during the 2021 season to Kentucky and Clemson.

BATTLE TESTED: South Carolina has faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation, including four ranked opponents in the first seven games. The Gamecocks opened the 2023 season playing No. 21 North Carolina before falling at top-ranked Georgia two weeks later. The gauntlet continued at No. 21 Tennessee to close out September and a game at No. 20 Missouri two weeks later. The opponents that Carolina has played are a combined 77-44, a .636 winning percentage. Removing games involving FCS teams, South Carolina’s opponents played are 71-39, a .645 winning percentage, tying for the fifth-best mark in the FBS. Nine of its 12 regular season opponents own a record of .500 or better. Eight of their opponents are bowl-eligible with only Vanderbilt winning fewer than five games. Going back to last season, seven of South Carolina’s last 14 opponents were ranked in the AP Top-25 at the time of the game.

IT JUST MEANS MORE: The Gamecocks are 42-14 in their last 56 non-conference games, a .750 winning percentage, with seven of the 14 losses in that stretch coming against Clemson. The Gamecocks are 2-1 in non-conference games this season, losing to North Carolina in the season opener in Charlotte, then defeating Furman and Jacksonville State at home.

PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Carolina is 38-6 in its last 44 home games against non-conference foes. The Gamecocks put together a school-record 22-straight home wins against non-conference teams before dropping the final two games of the 2015 season. The Gamecocks have won each of their last five home non-conference games.

THE LAST TIME OUT: Spencer Rattler connected with Xavier Legette on a pair of TD passes, the second one coming midway through the fourth quarter, and the Carolina defense held Kentucky to 293 yards of offense and forced three turnovers in a 17-14 Gamecock win over the Wildcats last Saturday night in Columbia. Jordan Strachan earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors after his two-sack performance. It marked Carolina’s third-straight win and kept their bowl hopes alive.

SPENCER FOR HIRE: With five 300-yard passing games in 2023, Spencer Rattler ranks fifth for the most passing yards in a single season in school history. He needs 133 yards to move into second place on the all-time list. Rattler and Todd Ellis are the only QBs on this list twice.
1. Dylan Thompson (2014) 3,564
2. Todd Ellis (1987) 3,206
3. Jake Bentley (2018) 3,171
4. Steve Taneyhill (1995) 3,094
5. Spencer Rattler (2023) 3,074
6. Stephen Garcia (2010) 3,059
7. Spencer Rattler (2022) 3,026
8. Todd Ellis (1986) 3,020

XAVIER IS LEGIT: Xavier Legette, who was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, has 65 catches for 1,187 yards and seven TDs on the season, moving into second place on the school’s all-time list for receiving yards. He owns six 100-yard receiving games in 2023, tying Sidney Rice’s 2005 mark for second in the record books.
1. Alshon Jeffery (2010) 1,517
2. Xavier Legette (2023) 1,187
3. Sidney Rice (2005) 1,143
4. Pharoh Cooper (2014) 1,136
5. Sterling Sharpe (1986) 1,106
6. Sidney Rice (2006) 1,090
1. Alshon Jeffery (2010) 8
2. Sidney Rice (2005) 6
Xavier Legette (2023) 6

THEY COME IN BUNCHES: After recovering just one fumble through the first eight games, the Gamecocks have recovered six fumbles in the last three contests and lead the SEC with seven fumble recoveries. Carolina forced just seven turnovers through the first eight games but have forced nine turnovers in the last three contests. The Gamecocks have forced 63 turnovers over the past three seasons – 24 in 2021, 23 in 2022 and 16 in 2023.

FAST STARTS: Carolina has scored a touchdown on its opening drive five times this season. They have tallied a first-quarter touchdown in 10 of 11 games after doing so in just six of 13 games in 2022. The Gamecocks have scored more points in the first quarter (83) than any other quarter. Carolina has held a lead in 13 of their last 14 games, the lone exception being the loss at Missouri.

START ME UP: Twenty players, including five true freshmen, have made their first start as a Gamecock this season:
North Carolina (6): OT Sidney Fugar, OG Nick Gargiulo, OT Cason Henry, TE Trey Knox, DE Bryan Thomas Jr. and LB Stone Blanton.
Furman (2): TE Joshua Simon and S Jalon Kilgore.
Georgia (2): OL Tree Babalade and DE Drew Tuazama.
Mississippi State (2): WR O’Mega Blake and DT T.J. Sanders.
Tennessee (3): OG Trovon Baugh, RB Mario Anderson and DE Tyreek Johnson.
Florida (1): DE Elijah Davis.
Texas A&M (2): WR Nyck Harbor, CB Judge Collier.
Vanderbilt (2): DT Nick Barrett, LB Bam Martin-Scott.

ON THE JOB TRAINING: The Gamecocks have started five true freshmen this season. Defensive back Jalon Kilgore was the first member of the 2023 recruiting class to earn a start when he moved into the starting lineup in Week 2. He has made 10 starts. Left tackle Tree Babalade has made eight starts, while right guard Trovon Baugh has made seven-straight starts on the offensive line. Only four schools have more freshmen starts along the offensive line than Carolina. Wide receiver Nyck Harbor and CB Judge Collier made their initial starts at Texas A&M.

STARTING NOTES: Six Gamecocks have started all 11 games this season. The list includes OL Nick Gargiulo, WR Xavier Legette and QB Spencer Rattler on offense and LB Stone Blanton, CB Marcellas Dial and LB Debo Williams on defense. In all, 40 players have been among the 22 starters on offense and defense this season.

THEY COME TO SEE THE GAMECOCKS PLAY: The Gamecocks have played in front of a sold-out stadium seven times this season. Carolina has sold out four of its six home games, drawing 78,281 in the home opener against Furman, 78,311 in the SEC home opener versus Mississippi State, a season-high 79,247 against Florida for Homecoming and 77,788 last week against Kentucky. The Gamecocks rank 17th in the country in average home attendance at 77,443 and have announced a sellout in 11 of its last 14 home games. The Gamecocks also played in front of sold-out crowds of 92,746 at Georgia, 101,915 at Tennessee and 62,621 at Missouri this season. The second-largest attended game of 95,297 at Texas A&M was not a sellout.

TOTING THE SHEEPSKIN: Twenty-two Gamecocks had their degrees in hand when the 2023 season began. Sixteen have earned a diploma from the University of South Carolina, including Ahmarean Brown, Terrell Dawkins, Marcellas Dial, B.J. Gibson, Alex Herrera, Tyreek Johnson, Trai Jones, Dakereon Joyner, Xavier Legette, Bam Martin-Scott, Jakai Moore, Jaylen Nichols, David Spaulding, Jordan Strachan, D.J. Twitty and Tyshawn Wannamaker. Nick Garguilo (Yale), DeAngelo Gibbs (Tennessee), Trey Knox (Arkansas), Eddie Lewis (Memphis), Joshua Simon (Western Kentucky) and Drew Tuazama (UAB) have degrees from other four-year institutions.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2024: The Gamecocks will host LSU, Ole Miss, Missouri and Texas A&M at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2024, and will travel to Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt. The non-conference portion of the 2024 slate includes home games against Old Dominion (Aug. 31), Akron (Sept. 21) and Wofford (Nov. 23) and a road game at Clemson (Nov. 30).