COLUMBIA — The Palmetto State has its own high-profile, highly-ranked rivalry showdown in the Southeast this weekend.
Sixth-ranked Clemson will take on No. 10 South Carolina with title implications, spice and state rivalry drama.
The Tigers (10-1) and Gamecocks (9-2) hope to show they each belong in a BCS game.
“Sort of neat that we have two teams in the top 10 that started the season there and are still there after 11 games,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.
Maybe more so this year than any other in a series first played in 1896: It’s the first time both held top-10 rankings in 111 meetings.
“To have two teams from the state of South Carolina nationally ranked, that makes this rivalry that much better,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We got two top-10 teams playing ... and I think it makes for an exciting game.” Especially with what’s at stake.
The Gamecocks own a four-game rivalry win streak heading into Saturday night’s game at Williams-Brice Stadium, something they’d only accomplished one time previously from 1951-54. South Carolina has never won five in a row in the rivalry.
The game marks the final duel between Clemson’s record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd and South Carolina’s pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
A year ago, Clowney registered 4½ sacks in the Gamecocks’ 27-17 victory. He turned up the heat in the rivalry in July, saying Boyd was scared of him.
“I like to pick at quarterbacks,” Clowney said. “If they can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Boyd has largely laughed off the comments, and said it will take the entire team to end a streak Tiger players hear about over and over again.
“This game is bigger than one player,” Boyd said. “It’s not me versus him or him versus anybody else.”
Boyd has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns against the Gamecocks.
Boyd’s been sacked a 14 times in those three games and rushed for minus 15 yards.
South Carolina could have another game a week later, should No. 5 Missouri fall to No. 19 Texas A&M and give the Gamecocks the SEC Eastern Division. That game starts 45 minutes after the Gameocks kickoff.
But Spurrier said the Gamecocks are focused on Clemson, not the Missouri-Texas A&M game.
“We won’t think anything about it,” the coach said. “We really won’t.”