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Battling it out since 1896

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Gamecocks or Tigers?

The Palmetto Bowl is just days away (Nov. 24), and if you’re not from this state, let us say: you must pick a side.

It’s a rivalry unlike any other the campuses are just 135 miles apart, the fans are neighbors (sometimes *gasp* even family), and the Tigers + Gamecocks have been battling it out since 1896. If you’re new to the state rivalry– or just a fan who needs to brush up on their team history– we’ve got you covered. Headed to Tigertown for the game? Check out our guide here.

Quick Facts:

🐅 Clemson holds a 69-42 lead in the series (with four ties). Clemson has more wins against the Gamecocks than any other program has; the University of South Carolina is second behind Georgia Tech in most wins against Clemson.

🐔 1901, and 1903-1908: The only years the teams didn’t play one another. In 1902, fistfights involving brass knuckles (and other objects) happened over a poster created by UofSC students that Clemson students disliked. Brawls continued to happen and were the main reason the teams didn’t play one another from 1903 until 1908. The poster was burned + the rivalry has played every year since.

🐅 The rivalry is the second longest continuous rivalry in Division I college football and the longest uninterrupted rivalry series in the south.

🐔 The Gamecocks won the first game (played on Nov 12, 1896) in Columbia. The game was played on Thursdays in Columbia from 1896 to 1959 (referred to as “Big Thursday”).

🐅 Since 1960, the game has been held on Thanksgiving weekend.

🐔 The game wasn’t dubbed the Palmetto Bowl until 2014.

🐅 DYK: USC Sumter was originally part of Clemson University (the campus joined UofSC in 1973 due to low enrollment through Clemson).

🐔 UofSC would play Clemson at the South Carolina fairgrounds at the same location that is now Williams–Brice Stadium, which originally seated 17,600 people in what roughly corresponds to the lower level of the current facility’s east + west seats. In 1941, the stadium was renamed Carolina Stadium (pictured below). The name was changed to Williams–Brice Stadium in 1972.

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Photo was taken during Clemson-South Carolina game at Carolina Stadium (state fair, 1952) | Provided by @Jimmy Thompson

Notable games:

🏈 1946: A Clemson fan strangled a live chicken at midfield during halftime. Fans from both sides, even those outside of the stadium, stormed fences + gates onto the field. U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes + Strom Thurmond were at the game and settled the crowd. Fans then stood along the sidelines with their respective teams during the second half to the game. South Carolina won the game 26-14.

🏈 1952: Clemson + South Carolina accepted bowl bids against conference rules, and the Southern Conference (a.k.a. SoCon, of which both schools were members), ordered Clemson to play no other league team other than Maryland as punishment to both Clemson + South Carolina. The S.C. General Assembly passed a resolution ordering the game to be played. SoCon wasn’t too pleased and attempted to suspend Clemson. Clemson + South Carolina both left the conference for the ACC in the spring of 1953.

🏈 1961: Members of the Sigma Nu fraternity at South Carolina planned to bring a sickly cow onto the field during halftime, deeming it “Clemson Homecoming Queen” but the cow died while en route to the stadium.

🏈 1963: Clemson + South Carolina were set to play on Nov. 23, 1963, but the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and pressure from the federal government forced the schools to play on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28).

🏈 1980: Clemson’s “orange britches” made their first debut against South Carolina under Head Coach Danny Ford.

🏈 1992: Freshman Gamecock QB Steve Taneyhill defeated the Tigers at Death Valley and signed his name with his finger on the Tiger Paw at midfield.

🏈 2004: The Brawl– The Gamecocks faced the Tigers in Death Valley in 2004, with several South Carolina players running towards the Hill as the Tigers ran down– a big ‘no’ for Clemson fans + players. Some shoving ensued but players eventually headed to their benches. The game was chalked-full of late hits and poor calls (on both sides) and before you know it, a brawl ensued, emptying the sidelines. Police, coaches, and support staff were also on the field; the scene covered 60 yards of turf. It was Gamecock Coach Lou Holtz’s last game. More on The Brawl here.

🏈 2013: The highest-ever ranked matchup between the two teams (Clemson #6, South Carolina #10), the Gamecocks won their fifth straight victory over Clemson 31-17.

🏈 2017: #3 Clemson defeated #24 South Carolina to win their fourth in a row against the Gamecocks. Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for complaining that South Carolina fans were throwing bottles + trash onto the field and at Clemson players. Clemson defeated South Carolina 34-10.

Share your favorite Clemson-Carolina memories with us in the comments below.

Now, the moment of truth: