COLUMBIA — Clemson finished an unusual season in a very familiar way with a dominating win over rival South Carolina.
Will Shipley ran for 128 yards and a touchdown and Clemson's defense smothered the Gamecocks for its seventh-straight win in the Palmetto State rivalry 30-0 on Saturday night.
The Tigers had won six straight Atlantic Coast Conference titles and were picked to make it seven straight this past summer before a 2-2 start cost them. Still, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was thrilled his team excelled in the biggest sporting event each year in the Palmetto State.
“Seven teams in a row that have gotten it done in a rivalry game, that’s really, really hard to do,” Swinney said. “It’s a special thing to be a part of.”
The Tigers (9-3; No. 23 CFP) won their fifth straight this season and matched the longest win streak in the series that they set from 1934-40.
Clemson's defense limited South Carolina (6-6) to 206 yards, its second lowest output this season. It was the Tigers' first rivalry shutout since a 45-0 win in 1989 and its first time holding an opponent scoreless since a 49-0 win over The Citadel in 2020.
The Tigers outrushed the Gamecocks 265 to 43. “There's nothing more demoralizing than to have the ball run on you,” Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said.
The lone drama at the end was whether South Carolina could put points on the board. With five seconds left, quarterback Zeb Noland ran 12 yards to the Clemson 3 before getting tackled by Jeremiah Trotter Jr.
Clemson's bench jumped from the sidelines to celebrate the shutout and the landmark win in a game that's the most anticipated sporting event in South Carolina each year.
“I want to apologize to our fans for that performance,” first-year South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said after the program was shutout for the first time since a 28-0 loss to Virginia in the Belk Bowl three seasons ago. “It starts with me as head coach.”
Shipley went past 100 yards for a second straight game and third time this season, the most by a Tigers freshman since his position coach, C.J. Spiller, had five such games in 2006.
Clemson had seen its chance at a seventh straight appearance in the ACC title game end with No. 24 North Carolina State's win over North Carolina on Friday night. The Tigers made sure they wouldn't lose their grip on the state against the Gamecocks.
“Sometimes, you can lose your appreciation of how hard it is” to win, Swinney said.
Shipley said the team was disappointed it wouldn't play for a league crown. “But we had a task at hand (in South Carolina) and got the job done,” he said.
Uiagalelei struggled passing against South Carolina's defense as he went 9 of 19 for 99 yards with an interception. It was Uiagalelei's lowest passing output this season.
Clemson's defense, as it had done much of the year, guaranteed the offensive output would hold up.
South Carolina, which had beaten Florida and Auburn earlier this month, managed just 75 yards in the opening half. Quarterback Jason Brown threw for only 53 yards and was intercepted twice, both by cornerback Andrew Booth Jr.
Brown finished 8-of-19 passing for 67 yards and was replaced by Noland, the grad assistant coach turned quarterback, in the fourth quarter.
Clemson: The Tigers may not have had their typical year, but ended it in a way the program wants with a dominant showing against South Carolina. Clemson has won the past seven games by an average margin of 26 points.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had some breakthrough victories in beating Florida and Auburn. They'll be going to a bowl game for the first time in three seasons. However, it will take more time for first-year South Carolina coach Shane Beamer to bring in the players capable of competing with Clemson.
Clemson's typically planning for the ACC Championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the week ahead. Instead, he says the team will get some time to rest and heal before finding out their bowl destination. He and the staff will work on recruiting. Although, “I'd rather be in Charlotte,” Swinney said. “That's the best recruiting.”
Clemson, which began the year ranked No. 3 and fell out by the end of its 2-2 September, figures to get back into the rankings with its late-season surge. The Tigers were 26th in Top 25 balloting last week.
Both Clemson and South Carolina will await bowl destinations on Dec. 5.
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