After securing bowl eligibility on Saturday under the lights against the Chattanooga Mocs, the Gamecocks (6-4, 4-4 SEC) have officially started preparing to face their rivals, the No. 2 Clemson Tigers (11-0, 8-0 ACC), on Thanksgiving weekend.
In South Carolina’s 49-9 victory over Chattanooga, junior quarterback Jake Bentley notched four touchdowns on the evening – highlighted by a 61-yard pass to senior wide-receiver Deebo Samuel in the fourth quarter.
With South Carolina’s offensive performance at its highest level of the season, head coach Will Muschamp hopes to see his team’s momentum continue to flow throughout the week.
“I think we’ve played well,” Muschamp said. “We’ve done a nice job. Certainly, we got a huge challenge and opportunity at Clemson, with a very good defense ... we’re gonna need to play well again.”
While the Gamecocks say they'll stick to business as usual regarding preparation this week, junior linebacker T.J. Brunson acknowledged that the team is aware of the stakes ahead going up against one of the top football programs in the nation.
“It’ll be like a regular week of preparation and everything, but there’s always a chip on your shoulder going into the week in our rivalry game and everything,” Brunson said. “We can do a little bit extra meeting and things like that, but preparation has to stay the same.”
As the starting quarterback, Bentley’s outlook on facing the Tigers seemingly aligned with Brunson’s. Bentley said he'll take his usual approach to a game.
“I think you take it as each and every week, where every week's a season,” Bentley said. “I heard a story about Tom Brady and what makes him so great is he never changes. In no way am I comparing myself to Tom Brady, but it's just that he has the same mindset no matter who they play or what the situation is in the game. I think that’s a great mindset to have. I think that’s what you’ve got to have this week. They’re a great football team and we’ve got to prepare well and play the right way.”
Bentley added that the team isn't focused on Clemson's four-year win streak in the rivalry series.
“I try to take each game by itself, and I think about ‘what-ifs’ and what it’s going to be,” Bentley said. “We’ve got to approach with the mindset 'this is the 2018 Carolina team against the 2018 Clemson team' and just go from there.”
The Gamecocks will see if their preparation throughout the week will lead to success on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Clemson Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.