COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A year ago, the Gamecocks said they'd "never again" take a beating from Clemson like the 56-7 drumming that was handed down.
But the old saying, "Never say never" firmly applies here. Kelly Bryant's 272 passing yards and Hunter Renfrow's two touchdown catches along with Clemson's stifling defense helped the Tigers come away with a 34-10 win over South Carolina for Dabo Swinney's 100th career win.
"That was fun," said Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney. "Really happy for our team. Really happy for our staff and certainly for our fans. We know how important this game is. It's great to be state champs. That's for sure. South Carolina's a good football team. They've had a heck of a year and much improved. Will's done a great job and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought game but I'm really proud of our guys for showing up and being ready and focused."
Clemson's defense makes their mark early in the contest. With Carolina inside their own 5-yard line, Jake Bentley was picked off by Ryan Carter and the interception would be returned for a touchdown. That takeaway for Clemson put them ahead 7-0 with 6:50 left in the quarter.
"It was either split safety or middle of the field coverage," said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp about the play. "The route should have been broken off and we should've taken the ball another place."
The Tigers would add to their lead in the second quarter. Clemson put together a 9-play, 80-yard drive in just under three minutes that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Tavien Feaster. The drive would be aided by two critical Carolina penalties and Clemson would push their lead to 14-0.
Bryant would come alive in Clemson's final scoring drive of the half. The 6-4, 220-pound junior quarterback would go a perfect 6-for-6 in the series ending it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow. Despite a missed extra point, the Tigers would extend their lead to 20-0.
Meanwhile, Carolina struggled in all phases. The Gamecocks only mustered 99 yards of total offense in the first half while Jake Bentley finished the first two periods going 8-of-15 passing for 42 yards. The Gamecocks allowed 226 total yards to Clemson's offense and it didn't get any better for USC.
After a 39-yard kickoff return for Clemson to start the half, Hunter Renfrow came away with a 61-yard touchdown catch. It was his longest of his career as well his second touchdown of the night and the Tigers would go up 27-0 with that score.
"The first play of the second half was disappointing, but it wasn't a lack of effort," said Muschamp. "We had a lack of tackling. We had four or five guys miss the guy and, give their guy credit, he made a play."
Clemson would add one more rushing touchdown in the quarter to make it a 34-point game.
Carolina finally got on the board in the fourth quarter. After a Keisean Nixon interception, Parker White put up a 40-yard field goal much to the delight of the remaining Carolina fans to make it 34-3 with 13:21 to go.
Carolina cut into Clemson's lead late in the game. Jake Bentley's 38-yard pass to Bryan Edwards cut the Tigers' lead to 34-10.
The Gamecocks fall to 8-4 while the Tigers improve to 11-1 on the year.