Jeffrey Davis

Palmetto Bowl history features upsets, brawls

The state of South Carolina is infamously divided through football, and the legions of each respective side meet to do battle every season on rivalry weekend in the game known as the Palmetto Bowl. The South Carolina Gamecocks will face off against the Clemson Tigers to control the bragging rights of the entire state for the following year.

Current South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp, who previously held the same position at the University of Florida, which has a similarly infamous rivalry with its counterpart in the Florida State Seminoles, said that the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry is “one of the greater rivalries in all of college football.”

The rivalry started in 1896 and this year's meeting will be the 109th in a row. This mark makes the rivalry the second-longest continuous rivalry in Division 1 football.

The all-time series is led by the Tigers, as they have won 69 games against the Gamecocks, while South Carolina has won 42 games. The game has also ended in a tie on four occasions. 

The rivalry began with the game being held annually on a Thursday, which led to the name Big Thursday. Big Thursday lasted from 1896 to 1959. The Thursday games were all held in Columbia, as opposed to the alternating of home fields that is currently used. 

In 1902, South Carolina students heightened the rivalry between the schools in the Banner Incident of 1902. Gamecock students and fans created a banner of a gamecock riding on a tiger, which outraged Tigers fans and students. These incidents enraged a group of cadets at Clemson, which at the time was a military school,  so much that they took their bayonets and advanced onto the campus of the University of South Carolina. 

The attack prompted South Carolina students to create a barricade and arm themselves with six-shooters and baseball bats. The campus security team was able to take control before serious injury occurred, but the incident prompted administration to suspend the rivalry for seven years.  

The brawls were not solely fought in the student section. In 2004, a Clemson tackler pinning South Carolina's quarterback Blake Mitchell prompted the benches to clear and several players threw punches. The fight was  violent and many fans still have the screen capture of Clemson's Yusef Kelly kicking a helmetless Carolina player in the head with his cleat. 

This rivalry has highlighted many different star players, as many NFL players once competed for a Palmetto Bowl title on one side or the other. 

The Tigers have boasted the talents of safety Brian Dawkins, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, defensive end Vic Beasley Jr. and quarterback Deshaun Watson.

 Former stars to lineup for the Gamecocks include wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, cornerback Johnathon Joseph, defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and running back Mike Davis. 

Both historic programs have featured many past talents, and both are currently fostering new talents.

Clemson's high-powered offense is powered by the phenomenal freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Heisman candidate running back Travis Etienne Jr. This elite offense combined with a defensive line led by Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins has been the reason behind Clemson's ranking of second in the country by the College Football Playoff Committee.

Under center for the Gamecocks will be junior quarterback Jake Bentley, who will likely have to rely heavily on star wide receiver Deebo Samuel to keep up with Clemson's high scoring offensive attack. The defense tasked with containing Clemson's offense will have to lean on star junior inside linebacker T.J. Brunson. The success of the secondary will depend a lot on the play of the young freshman cornerback Jaycee Horn, son of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn, who has shown promise in man-to-man coverage this season. 

The Palmetto Bowl has featured many feuds, talents and memories. This year's matchup should provide many more. 

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