And at the number nine spot on my list is…
#9 Clemson Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks. Clemson is winning the series 67-42-4. This rivalry has produced one national championship (Clemson 1981) and one Heisman trophy winner (George Rogers in 1980).
While being one of the great rivalries in college, it is also one of the most underrated. The hate between the both sides is as heated as the hate in many of other the great rivalries. This game was originally played on a Thursday during the State Fair at Williams-Brice Stadium. In 1960 the first Clemson-South Carolina made its way to Clemson. Ever since then the host location has switched between Clemson and Columbia. Since 1960, on every Saturday after Thanksgiving these two foes, the Tigers and Gamecocks, meet on the field to see who reigns supreme over South Carolina.
This rivalry dates back to 1896 and in the first every match-up between Clemson and South Carolina, the Gamecocks came out on top, 12-6. Due to the riot that happened after the 1902 game, where South Carolina beat a John Heisman-coached Clemson, the teams never played again until 1909. Since 1909, Clemson and Carolina have continued their feud. They have played each other 113 times total. A little known fact about this rivalry is that is the second-longest consecutive games played in a rivalry game. They have played 107 straight games against each other.
Just like many rivalries in the country, the tradition of the rivalry makes it unique. Each school has their pep rally before the game. The fans at South Carolina have a “Tiger Burn.” The Gamecock students share their last words for a paper mache tiger and they set a blaze.
The Tiger fans lay the beloved Cocky mascot to rest at the “Cocky Funeral.” Ever since some South Carolina students tried to steal Howard’s Rock in 1992, Clemson ROTC protects the Rock for a whole 24 hours before any home game against the Gamecocks.
And the actual games have been even better…
From “The Catch” by Clemson wide receiver Jerry Butler in the 1977 game, which sealed the game for Clemson in the last seconds. To “The Catch II”, where Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler connected with Rod Gardner for a 50-yard gain to set up a 25 yard field goal for the Tigers in the last second. But the Carolina fans give this game another title. They named the game “The Push-Off.” Instant replay shows Gardner and Carolina defender fight for the ball, but no flag was thrown.
Unfortunately, the most famous game in this rivalry is probably the 2004 bout. It was Lou Holtz’s last game he ever coached for the Gamecocks, and in college period. The most memorable part of the game was the brawl. The 2004 competition has been named “The Brawl” for obvious reason. Blood started to boil between both sides when the Gamecocks where standing at the bottom of “The Hill” waiting for the Tigers to come down. Some shoving ensued, but nothing more until late in the fourth quarter. Gamecock quarterback Syvelle Newton was hit to the ground, but the Clemson players kept him from getting off the ground. After some pushing, shoving and punching, the benches cleared. The most iconic picture was taken from a Clemson-South Carolina game was taken when a Clemson player kicked a helmet-less Carolina player.
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