COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The game for annual bragging rights around South Carolina will go down next Saturday night when the Tigers and Gamecocks throw down in Death Valley on live TV at 7pm on ESPN2, said Clemson University officials Sunday morning.
This the day after the Gamecocks knocked off Troy in their first game as reigning SEC east champions. It began when the Trojans fumbled the opening kickoff and Marcus Lattimore scored on the first play from scrimmage from 21 yards out.
Before the first half was out, the Gamecocks' lead grew to 28-0 when quarterback Stephen Garcia hit Ace Sanders for a 51 yard touchdown pass, Sanders' first touchdown as a Gamecock. In the second quarter, Garcia hit Patrick DiMarco from 7 yards out to add to the Gamecock lead, 35-7. The pass was the senior's first touchdown catch of the year.
After a Trojan touchdown, Garcia snuck it in from one yard out to put the Gamecocks up 42-7. Alshon Jeffrey set up the score two plays earlier, with a long catch that set a new single season receiving record for South Carolina.
Jeffrey caught five passes for 123 yards in the first half, to move past Sidney Rice as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards in a season. Jeffery had 1,210 yards to edge Rice's 1,143 yards in 2005.
On the next Trojan drive, D. J. Swearinger picked off Troy quarterback Corey Robinson at the 22 yard line and took it in for the Gamecocks' seventh touchdown, putting the score at 49-7 USC. Chaz Sutton added a pick-six with no time left in the first half to put the Gamecocks on top 56-7.
As he ran off the field at halftime, Spurrier said his team has never had a game like this and plans to rest his starters. "Hopefully, we can play a lot of our guys and look good the second half," said Spurrier. Spurrier says the team will have to put this blowout win behind them, just like they would a blowout loss.
The scoring slowed down a bit in the second half for the Gamecocks, as many of the starters sat out to give players who hadn't seen much action a chance to play.
The teams traded field goals and Troy scored a touchdown in the third quarter, but USC stayed on top 59-17 going into the fourth quarter. The Trojans added a touchdown in the fourth, but South Carolina still held a commanding 69-24 lead.
Spencer Lanning added a field goal and Ace Sanders caught his second touchdown pass of the game to finish off the scoring 69-24.
Garcia completed nine of twelve passes for 198 yards passing and three touchdowns - two passing and one rushing. Backup quarterback Connor Shaw connected on five of eight passes for 36 yards.
Lattimore is a freshman who had 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Gamecocks' 36-14 victory at Florida that won the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division last week. He surpassed the 16 TDs of Harold Green in 1987, and ended the game one touchdown away from the SEC freshman record of 20 set by Tennessee's Reggie Cobb in 1987.
The Gamecocks has 461 yards of total offense. Troy had five turnovers, all which led to USC touchdowns.
The team and fans were on an emotional high Saturday. The Gamecocks' dominating win comes a week after Carolina won the SEC East title.
Fans have blamed the "Chicken Curse" over the years, and finished with a wistful, "well, there's always next year." Obviously, those laments have changed.
"I don't want to say anything that's going to ruin our chances against Auburn," cautioned Eoin Kenny, "But I mean, it's looking good for us."
"I've lived in South Carolina most of my life, and this is probably the best season I can remember us having," attested Kevin Simpson.
"I'm a freshman, so coming to this is a new experience," said AJ Sload. "I'm from the North and I never expected to come to an SEC school, but I'm really glad I did because it's an awesome experience."
Sidney Mitchell had a different take on the Gamecocks' perennial scapegoat: "What chicken curse?" she asked.
Okay, say the curse really is broken. But has "next year" finally arrived?
"Well, this is next year!" exclaimed Aakash Patel.
"We've already made it," agreed Kenny. "We already made it!"
"They're going to make it to the SEC Championship in Atlanta, so hopefully we'll be there December the fourth, tailgating," said April Wheeler.
"As a matter of fact, I hope to be sitting in the suite during the game," agreed David Wheeler.
"I still might go to Atlanta and see if I can get a $300 ticket," said Tripp Pryor.
USC, now 8-3 overall, travels to rival Clemson next week to close out the season before playing Auburn in Atlanta December 4 for the SEC title.