Spencer Rattler passed for 360 yards and two touchdowns, Mitch Jeter made the go-ahead field goal with 11 minutes left and South Carolina crushed the playoff hopes of a second straight top-10 team with a 31-30 victory. against No. 7 Clemson on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (8-4, 3-2 SEC) were the talk of college football last week after their 63-38 dismantlement of then fifth-ranked Tennessee, ending the Vols’ hopes of a playoff berth at the college football.
South Carolina and Rattler, who passed for 438 yards and six touchdowns against Tennessee, ended any chance Clemson (10-2, 6-1 ACC, No. 8 CFP) had at making the CFP. The Gamecocks rallied from a 14-0 down 10 minutes later to end Clemson’s seven-game series-winning streak and 40-game home streak that dated back to 2016.
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Antwane Wells Jr. had nine receptions for 131 yards, including touchdowns of 4 and 72 yards.
Clemson was looking to set a series record with their eighth straight over South Carolina. And the Tigers were up 30-21 midway through the third quarter after Will Shipley ran 11 yards to the end zone.
That’s when Wells, a transfer from James Madison, broke behind the defense for a 72-yard TD reception two plays later.
After Clemson’s three-and-out, Rattler moved the Gamecocks to the Tigers 10 before Jeter connected on a 35-yard kick to go 10-for-10 on the season.
Clemson had no answer after South Carolina took the lead. The Tigers managed just 15 yards on three drives as DJ Uiagalelei went on a combined 0-for-6 pass with an interception.
Clemson got the ball back one final time with 2:09 remaining, but Antonio Williams fumbled on a punt return and South Carolina’s Nick Emmanwori recovered.
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The Gamecocks went wild in celebration, running towards the team’s fans and the band in Death Valley’s west end zone.
Wells finished with his final catch for a first down with 1:04 left. Rattler took the final snap and tossed the ball into the air with glee.
THE TO TAKE
South Carolina: The Gamecocks probably wish there was more left for the season. It’s been a historic regular season in Shane Beamer’s second season as coach, with wins over ranked Kentucky, Texas A&M and the ostensibly CFP-linked Vols before beating rival Clemson.
Clemson: This was not the way the Tigers expected to go into the ACC title game against North Carolina next week. Clemson needed to win and defeat the Tar Heels to have any chance of making the College Football Playoff.
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South Carolina will await its bowl fate.
Clemson will face North Carolina in the ACC championship game next Saturday.