OVERALL RECORD: Clemson, 38-65-4
LAST 10 GAMES: Clemson, 7-3
STREAK: South Carolina, 1
I hate to admit that this is South Carolina's biggest rivalry. But I only have one vote in these things, and if I had to choose I'd probably still go with Clemson. (Which is pronounced Clempson. Do not ask why. Suffice it to say, English isn't their strongest suit in the Upstate -- nor are any of the other academic subjects, for that matter.)
It would be easy to write some of the losses by South Carolina off to the fact that Clemson hasn't always followed the NCAA's
salary cap illegal benefits rules. And it would also be able to write off one loss in particular during which referees apparently believed that only throwing a defensive back 50 yards would be considered offensive pass interference.
But instead, I'll just say that Clemson has often proven to be the better team. And 34-17. 34-17. And, yes, 34-17.
Because the truth is that South Carolina fans and Clemson fans want to defeat each other at everything. Heck, I want to defeat Clemson at water polo, and we don't even play water polo. Clemson fans, who still consider their team a nationally relevant powerhouse, often view the game as a consolation prize after their national title dream have died, usually some time in September.
The depth of the rivalry can best be illustrated by two fights. One, in 1902, resulted from a Clemson loss and the refusal by Gamecocks fans to stop parading around with a picture of a Gamecock defeating a Tiger. (This is actually the origin of the Gamecock as South Carolina's mascot.) The result?
Having lost the game and gotten, at best, a tie in the street brawling, the next night the Clemson cadets with guns and bayonets charged the campus wall behind which the outnumbered Carolinians crouched with makeshift weapons and a few shotguns and pistols. A Carolina assistant coach, Christie Benet, backed up by a loaded pistol, mounted the wall, offered to fight any two Clemson Tigers and urged both sides to arbitrate.
The picture was eventually burned.
You've likely heard about the other fight.
It's not what the rivalry should be about, but it's one of the most memorable moments in its history. And it's one of the ugliest things I've ever seen.
Even if Clemson did start it.
While the Clemson game is perhaps the biggest rivalry in the overall sense of the word, the biggest rivalry in sense of the impact of the game on the season is usually the Georgia game. Last year was one of the few times that the team that won did not do dramatically better than the team that lost, particuarly related to its expectations. (Both were 7-5 in the regular season; Georgia defeated a mediocre Texas A&M in its bowl while South Carolina lost to an underrated Connecticut.) This is also one of the games I personally get most emotional about; a loss to Georgia often renders me unable to say a word about football for several hours, because what follows tends to be an incoherent string of words, like "KICK! A FEW YARDS! [DELETED]!" And the losses, unfortunately, are far more often than the wins. (Georgia is 45-14-2 all-time in the series.)