COLUMBIA — South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made headlines in the off-season when he said Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd was scared of him.
After registering 4½ sacks against Clemson in 2012, Clowney was kept in check for much of the first half Saturday night against the Tigers. Then he erupted with a big sack of Boyd midway through the second quarter.
The play drew a big roar from the Williams-Brice Stadium crowd and helped stymie a Clemson drive. On the next play, Clowney put a big hit on running back Roderick McDowell as Boyd had to hurry a pass that fell incomplete to Sammy Watkins.
Clemson primarily used left tackle Brandon Thomas and a tight end to block Clowney. The Gamecocks moved Clowney around, even using him at inside linebacker.
Clowney entered the season as one of the nation’s most heralded players but has had an up-and-down season as he’s fought injuries and double- and triple-teams.
TIME BATTLE: South Carolina figured Clemson’s high-scoring offense could be held in check if it wasn’t on the field.
The Gamecocks dominated time of possession in the first half of Saturday night’s battle with the Tigers and led 17-10 at the break. South Carolina held the ball nearly twice as long.
After intercepting a Watkins pass on a trick play, the Gamecocks drove 80 yards in 17 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. The drive consumed 8 minutes and 13 seconds.
Then, in the second quarter, the Gamecocks chewed up more than five minutes in a drive that culminated with an Elliott Fry field goal.
Clemson scored its first-half touchdown on a four-play drive that took just 1:38. The big play was a 57-yard pass from Boyd to Watkins.
BOTH TEAMS RANKED: Saturday night marked just the sixth time that both Clemson and South Carolina were ranked in The Associated Press poll coming into the game. It also was the first time both were in the top 10.
Before Saturday night’s game, Clemson had won just one of those matchups, in 2000. South Carolina beat the Tigers in 1979, 1987, 2011 and 2012.
THIS AND THAT: Representatives from the Sugar, Orange, Capital One, Outback, Gator, Chick-fil-A and Belk bowls were in attendance for Saturday night’s game ... Juniors Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Victor Hampton participated in Senior Night festivities for the Gamecocks. All three are expected to declare for the NFL Draft ... Darius Rucker, of Hootie and the Blowfish, fame sang the national anthem.