No. 8 Clemson Is Out Of The College Football Playoff Race After Losing 31-30 To South Carolina Which Ended Both A Six Game Series Losing Streak For The Gamecocks And Ended The Tigers’ 40 Game Home Win Streak That Nearly Dated nearly six years before a current Clemson player was on campus. Clemson also saw his streak of 68-0 winning games after amassing a half-time lead under coach Dabo Swinney fall by the wayside.
Special teams were central to the Gamecocks’ victory, a fitting statement for coach Shane Beamer, a longtime special teams coordinator. South Carolina punted from its own 19-yard line, forcing a fumble from returner Antonio Williams that the visitors recovered to run out the clock. Punter Kai Kroeger played an incredible seven-shoe game, five of which were knocked down inside the 20-yard line. Only one of those subsequent drives led to points for the Tigers.
Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed just 8 of 29 passes for 99 yards in the worst performance of his career and a mark that matched his efforts from the previous year in this rivalry.
South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler followed up his six touchdown campaign in a Tennessee upset by throwing for 360 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Antwane Wells hauled in eight balls for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
South Carolina’s victory over Clemson was the first since the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers 31–17 in 2013. Connor Shaw was that Gamecocks team’s quarterback, and he led the program with 152 yards passing and 94 yards rushing.
Here are more takeaways from Saturday’s upset in the Palmetto series.
Declaration ends in year 2 under Beamer
It’s been several years since South Carolina was a legit mayhem team, but Beamer has got the program right back where it belongs. The Gamecocks now have back-to-back wins against top-10 opponents for the first time in the program’s history. They also secured conference games that could have been losses in years past, defeating Kentucky and a Texas A&M team ranked No. 4 in the 247Sports Talent Composite.
Beamer has quickly become a favorite in Columbia, and with good reason. South Carolina is talented enough to cause trouble for higher-ranking opponents in the SEC East and beyond. Getting back to competing with rivals and at least swinging for the SEC East race is a huge step for this program – and should quickly become a valuable recruiting tool for the affable Beamer.
Clemson no longer has a CFP
Even if Clemson had beaten South Carolina, it might have needed style points as a potential conference champion by one loss in the playoff chase. The rivalry loss – giving Clemson his second regular season loss of the season – closes any back door for Clemson to play his way in. The Tigers settled things in ACC play with an 8-0 undefeated record, but non-conference matchups against South Carolina and Notre Dame ultimately doomed them in the CFP hunt. Dabo Swinney’s program has reached the highest levels of college football by dominating the ACC, but that’s no longer enough to compete on the national stage.
The Tigers QB woes continue
Uiagalelei has had a better statistical year as a junior, but his miserable effort against South Carolina only highlighted why questions continue to circulate about the former five-star. Uiagalelei completed a paltry 28% of his passes and failed to pass 100 yards.
South Carolina took a one-run lead with 10:54 left in the game. Clemson had three full drives to try to score just a field goal to regain the lead. The first ended with a three-and-out after consecutive incompletions. The second resulted in a Uiagalelei interception on the second play. The third ended with a punt after three incompletions.
Clemson managed to win 10 games for the second season in a row, but Uiagalelei remains a problem after two years as the starting quarterback. Backup Cade Klubnik may be the answer, but trying to run this roster and system in 2023 is simply unpalatable.