The Palmetto Bowl returns to Columbia as the Gamecocks close out the season against the No. 3 Clemson Tigers.
“It means a lot,” head coach Will Muschamp said about the rivalry in Tuesday’s news conference. “You’re either South Carolina or Clemson in this state, for the most part.”
Here’s what to know for the big matchup.
South Carolina and Clemson have met on the gridiron every year since 1909. Clemson owns a 70-42-4 record over Carolina, including a 51-32-3 record in Columbia.
In last year’s matchup, South Carolina posted 600 offensive yards in the 56-35 loss. Senior quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 510 yards and five touchdowns. Despite the scoring effort by the Gamecocks, Clemson’s offense put up 744 yards to secure its third perfect season in program history.
“This is a great rivalry, and we need to win the game,” Muschamp said. “As far as how it affects our season, that’s not something I’m going to focus on with our team. I’m going to focus on the fact that this is a great rivalry and we need to do a better job.”
The Gamecocks hope to deliver the Tigers their first loss since the College Football Playoff Semifinal in January 2018 and snap their five-game win streak in the series.
Advantages of a bye week
Both South Carolina and Clemson had last week off ahead of the rivalry clash.
The extra week between games allowed some of South Carolina’s injured players ample time to recover without having to miss a game and provided extra time to practice. Muschamp said the coaching staff used that time to game plan, especially since Clemson is the last opponent of the season.
South Carolina’s upset victory over then-No. 3 Georgia Oct. 12 came on the heels of a bye week. The Gamecocks hope they can recreate that weekend’s success.
“That’s a good example of when we do coach, and prepare the right way, and go and execute against a really good football team, then good things can happen,” Muschamp said of the Georgia game.
Feaster faces former team
Senior wide receiver Tavien Feaster joined Gamecock football this summer after transferring from Clemson, where he graduated in July. Since his addition to the team, Feaster has led the team with 112 carries, 625 rushing yards, five touchdowns and two 100-yard rushing games this season.
When asked if it would be "weird" for him to end his college career against his former team, Feaster said that though he is friends with some of the Tigers, “when [they] step on the field, it’s business” and he’s approaching it "like any other game."
“This is an opportunity to go out there and perform and to play my best against a great team, so that’s what I’m gonna do,” Feaster said.
Muschamp said Tuesday it’s "questionable" whether senior wide receiver Bryan Edwards will be available after having a knee scope last week. Senior defensive lineman Kobe Smith might also be unavailable Saturday after sustaining an ankle injury during the Texas A&M game.
Muschamp said Feaster, senior running back Mon Denson and sophomore wide receiver OrTre Smith, who all missed A&M two weeks ago with injuries, participated in Tuesday’s practice and should be ready to play. Senior defensive back A.J. Turner will also be available this weekend.
The Gamecocks kickoff against the Tigers at noon Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.