The Daily Gamecock

Column: Erase the Palmetto Bowl from your memory

The 2016 Clemson-South Carolina game lasted about three-and-a-half hours, and it should only remain in your mind for that long, if not less. 

I was among those who thought the Gamecocks would compete in Memorial Stadium in the rivalry game, having seen so much improvement from Jake Bentley and the South Carolina defense over the course of a roller-coaster season. And I was so incredibly wrong.

But the final score doesn't matter. Yes, those guys from the Upstate will have bragging rights for yet another year (a lot of them because of that score), but the Gamecocks weren't supposed to win this game. The spread was 24 points. They weren't even supposed to come close to winning this game. 

It goes even deeper than that, though. South Carolina wasn't supposed to play in December, but the rivalry game disappointment won't be the last time the Gamecocks take the field in 2016. This was a team that was picked to finish last in the SEC East. This was a 2-4 team heading into the bye week with the worst scoring offense in the nation.

For South Carolina, this season wasn't about competing in the SEC East (which the Gamecocks did), and it wasn't about beating Clemson. This was about getting the program back in the right direction, and it's hard to argue that Will Muschamp hasn't built a solid foundation for the future in Columbia.

Gamecock fans have to be patient. This team isn't far removed from three straight 11-win seasons, so it can certainly be difficult, but let's not forget the 3-9 team that lost to The Citadel in 2015.

A 56-7 loss to an in-state rival can certainly take the wind out of a program's sails, but whether you like it or not, Clemson is one of the best teams in the country. The Tigers have elite recruits outside the starting lineup and a core of experienced players. They'll likely play for the national championship for the second straight season. There's shame in losing by 49 to any team, but it's understandable to get blown out by an older, more talented, more experienced team in a road night game.

So get that bad taste out of your mouth. South Carolina will play in December, and nobody thought that would happen. This team was predicted to be as bad as 2-10 by some beat writers. The season was all about rebuilding, and even though the regular season finale was by far the worst performance of the year, the Gamecocks are better right now than they were in September. 

No loss can take that away.


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