Posted by Chip Patterson
SOUTH CAROLINA WON. For the first time since 1968-1970, South Carolina claimed their third straight victory in the in-state rivalry with Clemson thanks to a convincing 34-13 win. Sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw put together arguably the most complete performance of his young career, completing 14 of 20 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns through the air while adding 108 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground.
HOW SOUTH CAROLINA WON: South Carolina started the game offensively by taking body shots at Clemson's defense. Draws, dives, and zone reads accounted for a majority of the early play calls, with Spurrier sparingly allowing Shaw to take a shot downfield. But Shaw began to open up Clemson's defense with his ability to scramble from the pocket. Defensively the Gamecocks took NC State's example and emphasized pressure on Tajh Boyd. The difference for South Carolina was the ability to get into Boyd's face almost exclusively with their defensive front. Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney, and the rest of the defensive line had a superb game limiting the Tigers' rushing attack and forcing Boyd into errant throws.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: The Gamecocks' defense opened the fourth quarter holding Clemson's offense to a field goal after Ingram sacked Boyd for a 9-yard loss on 3rd down inside the 15. The South Carolina offense followed with a 14 play drive that ate up over seven minutes of game clock before ending in a field goal. When Clemson got the ball back, down 27-13, Tajh Boyd threw two incomplete passes before his third was picked off by DeVonte Holloman and returned to the Clemson 19. Two plays later Alshon Jeffery is hauling in a touchdown pass and the game is in the books. After a back and forth third quarter, it was that series of events that ended all hope for the young Tigers' squad.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: For the second time in school history, and the first time under Steve Spurrier, South Carolina hit the 10-win mark. The achievement adds to the list of 2011 honors that include the first 6-2 SEC finish in school history, and the first 5-0 finish against division opponents. The absence of an SEC Championship Game bid does sting, but you have to be impressed with the Gamecocks' finish considering the obstacles they have overcome.
WHAT CLEMSON LOST: Any shot at momentum heading into the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers didn't need to win either of their final two contests to earn a BCS bowl bid, but their back-to-back losses against NC State and South Carolina have shown revealed weaknesses that went under the radar during the 8-0 start. While Clemson is reeling after their third loss in four games, Virginia Tech is playing their best ball of the season. The Hokies have won seven straight games since losing 23-3 to Clemson at home in early October. The Tigers can expect Virginia Tech's best shot on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game, and South Carolina gave the Hokies a great gameplan in the win.
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