COLUMBIA, S.C. -- One of the nation's oldest rivalries will be a match up of two embattled teams - each adjusting to new quarterbacks, injuries and disappointing seasons.
Clemson (6-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) and South Carolina (5-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) had preseason hopes of contending for conference championships, but Saturday's game still has big implications.
The Tigers want to improve their bowl chances with a winning record while the Gamecocks need a win just to become bowl-eligible.
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden thinks the rivalry will be enough to get his players ready after a 30-12 loss against No. 18 Maryland on Saturday.
"There's a lot of teams playing right now that don't have anything to play for - don't have a bowl game, don't have a winning record - so we've still got some things left out there to play for, which the team needs to realize," Bowden said Sunday.
He said the biggest key for both teams is getting motivated after tough losses to Top 20 teams. South Carolina lost 28-7 to No. 19 Florida.
Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz said his team struggles with consistency.
"It's just somebody makes a mistake at the most inopportune time," Holtz said. "Time after time we've run into this problem."
After moving starting quarterback Corey Jenkins to safety and replacing him with junior Dondrial Pinkins, the Gamecocks still couldn't move the ball against the Gators. They threw for just 74 yards and have scored just 31 points in the last four games.
Holtz says his team is due because players are making good throws and catches.
"We don't have lot of confidence right now. I think offensively we control the ball fairly well until the game gets out of hand," Holtz said. "We don't have big play people."
The loss was the fourth-straight for the Gamecocks and Holtz knows he can't look past the Tigers.
"We've got Clemson and then I'll worry about the rest of it," he said.
Bowden said the talent level on his young team has led to the mediocre season.
"We've got to, at some point in time, elevate the program where we can go out there and execute and make the plays we've got to make against a quality, ranked opponent," Bowden said.
Freshman Charlie Whitehurst, who had thrown for 694 yards and eight touchdowns since being named Clemson's starter two weeks ago, was 12-of-26 for 130 yards against the Terrapins.
Maryland set its defensive scheme to stop the run and pester Whitehurst. The plan worked as the Tigers rushed for just 81 yards, compared with 285 for the Terrapins.
"Maryland covered a little bit closer, put a little more pressure, a little more things in his face and no doubt this is a learning experience for him," Bowden said.
Bowden replaced Willie Simmons with Whitehurst when the offensive didn't produce.
"This will be a good week for" Whitehurst, Bowden said. "It's a good game for him to learn from."
© 2016. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us