Nov. 14, 2000
CLEMSON, S.C. — Both 16th-ranked Clemson and 25th-ranked South Carolina will be hoping to avoid their third straight loss in a battle of in-state rivals on Saturday.
For the first time since 1987, both South Carolina and Clemson enter the game with winning records, national rankings and bowl trips secure.
Tommy Bowden and the Clemson Tigers (8-2, 6-2 ACC) had two weeks to mull over a crushing 54-7 defeat to Florida State.
“We’ve got a chance to do something with nine wins here, playing South Carolina, that hasn’t been done here in a long time,” Bowden said. “I think that ought to be our focus.”
The fact that Coach Bowden was humiliated by his own father, Bobby Bowden, was only part of the burn.
After going 8-0 to start the season, the younger Bowden has watched his Tigers give up 550 yards total offense in their 31-28 loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 28 at Death Valley, and a school-record 771 yards to his father’s Seminoles.
Only once in their first eight games had they allowed more than 300 yards total offense, and that was 402 yards in a 38-24 win over North Carolina on Oct. 21.
Clemson’s defense rating has tumbled to 36th, but Bowden has also watched his Tigers’ total offense drop off.
Only twice have they pushed less than 400 yards across, or put up less than 30 points, and both came in the last two games.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) faced their Southeastern Conference rivals, the Florida Gators, last Saturday at the Swamp, with a chance to go to the SEC Championship game for the first time since joining the league.
It looked like a sure thing when they put up 21 points and led by 18 at the end of the first quarter. But 38 straight Gator points would put an end to that dream.
A real comedy of errors was at fault: A pass off the head of a Gamecock defender that went for a 40-yard gain, another throw that bounced off a South Carolina lineman for a 6-yard touchdown to Florida left guard Thomas Moody, a drive extended after Florida punter Alan Rhine ran for 26 yards on fourth-and-2.
“I’ve never seen anything like this game,” a shocked Holtz said. “It was strange.”
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