Saturday was ugly for Palmetto State football teams

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COLUMBIA — There hasn’t been a football hangover like this in the Palmetto State since New Years Eve 2010. That was the last time before Saturday fans of the state’s two major college programs endured defeats on the same day.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said he "couldn't sleep hardly a bit" after his team was upset on the road against Tennessee.  WADE PAYNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said he "couldn't sleep hardly a bit" after his team was upset on the road against Tennessee.

And it was difficult to determine whether Gamecocks or Tigers fans hurt more.

No. 20 South Carolina was stung by Tennessee’s fourth-quarter rally, the unranked Vols snapping a four-year streak of losses to ranked opponents 23-21 on Marcus Palardy’s 19-yard field as time ran out.

“I couldn’t sleep hardly a bit last night,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday.

Clemson fans know the feeling.

The ninth-ranked Tigers had hoped to take control of the Atlantic Coast Conference race and cement themselves as national championship contenders. Instead, they surrendered the most points in Death Valley history in a 51-14 beatdown by Florida State.

“Very disappointed in how we played last night,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. Watching “the film wasn’t much better.”

Clemson’s contest in front of 83,428 fans at Memorial Stadium was over at halftime. The Tigers had four turnovers – they came into the game with only four all season – and Florida State turned them into 24 points.

“It’s never as good as it seems, but also never as bad as it seems,“ Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “There will be some good things to take away from this. There are guys who played well, but overall we have to play better.”

Both programs have been top 25 fixtures the past few seasons, giving college football fans in the state plenty to brag about before this weekend.

Since a 31-26 loss to South Florida in the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 31, 2010, Clemson has gone 27-7, won the 2011 ACC championship and defeated Southeastern Conference superpowers in LSU and Georgia behind defending ACC Player of the Year Boyd and All-America wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

A few hours after Clemson’s bowl loss nearly three years ago, South Carolina fell to the Seminoles 26-17 at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. And like the Tigers, the Gamecocks have continued a steady rise.

After Saturday, the two schools have several questions to answer.

The Gamecocks had figured to grab hold of the SEC Eastern Division at Neyland Stadium and, after a sluggish start, led 21-17 in the fourth quarter and figured to try and run out the game with mobile quarterback Connor Shaw and the SEC’s leading rusher in Mike Davis.

Instead, Shaw got crunched midway through final period and suffered a left knee sprain that Spurrier says will most likely keep him out of next Saturday’s game at SEC East leader, No. 5 Missouri.

Without Shaw’s versatility, the Gamecocks offense bogged down and they twice gave the ball back to Tennessee for an upset chance. The Vols did it on their last possession, freshman receiver Marquez North with a one-armed catch with South Carolina’s Ahmad Christian in seemingly good position to make a play. The stunned South Carolina defense couldn’t compose itself after that and Tennessee put Palardy in chip-shot range.

Spurrier questioned his play-calling down the stretch and acknowledged he would’ve gone for it on fourth down deep in Gamecocks territory if his offense needed one yard instead of two. Spurrier used two time outs considering the decision before punting.

Boyd was off-target throughout the contest and finished with just 156 yards passing. He was in a walking boot after the game protecting a sprained ankle, but said he would be fine when Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) travels to Maryland next Saturday.

Spurrier and the Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2) will bounce back at Missouri. The coach said that’s the first step toward working themselves back in the divisional race since undefeated Missouri has a two-game lead over the East’s three favorites in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“I think we all know that there’s a lot of ball still left for everyone,“ Spurrier said.

And more chances to make Palmetto State fans happy again.


Alabama and Florida State hold the top two spots in the first BCS standings of the season. Oregon was a close third behind second-place Florida State.

The Seminoles (.9348 BCS average) are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 51-14 victory at Clemson.

Ohio State is a more distant fourth, followed by Missouri.

The top two teams in the final standings after the end of the regular season play for the national title.

– Associated Press

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Darby 10/21/13 - 11:52 am
I know what's been going wrong with the Dawgs,

because I've be (casually) following them. Never seen a series of injuries like that, one on top of another. But somebody tell me what happened to the 'Cocks and Tigers. I never could have predicted that.

Any hardcore Carolina or Clemson fans out there got the answers? I'd really like to know, even though as I said, I'm not a fanatic but I do enjoy watching from time to time.

woodymeister 10/21/13 - 12:09 pm
I'm a Tiger Fan

I was shocked at the lack of excitement coming out of the locker room, riding on the buses to the hill, and rubbing the rock heading down to the field. Hard to tell if they were over confident or scared to death. Watching them play, I'm inclined to go with the latter.

etlinks 10/21/13 - 02:19 pm

The OBC play calling was somewhat suspect and the 2 timeouts back to back was stupid. A fake punt at that time would have been at least a better chance to pick up the 2 yards for a 1st down. But I'm sure other issues can be discussed. Just hope the Cocks can beat Missouri.

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