Cock-a-doodle-do

Cock-a-doodle-do

Football

Cock-a-doodle-do

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By Will Vandervort.

By Will Vandervort

Yes, the Clemson-South Carolina game is a week away, but today we start a series of articles at theClemsonInisder.com that will take a look back at the best Clemson victories in the Clemson-South Carolina Rivalry. Over the next 10 days in leading up to the State’s Big Game, we will count down, in our opinion, the Tigers 10 best victories over the hated Gamecocks.

No. 10: Clemson 31, South Carolina 14 (November 26, 2008)

Seconds after Chris Chancellor intercepted South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley late in the fourth quarter, Clemson running back James Davis started to lead a chant that could be heard clear into the night sky.

“Did you see me,” Davis said. “That was great wasn’t it?”

“Dabo! Dabo! Dabo!” That was the chant most of the 81,500 fans that were dressed in orange chanted with Davis and many other Clemson players following the Tigers’ 31-14 victory over South Carolina. The chant just was not a yell for celebration in Death Valley, but it was a message to Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips to make then interim head coach Dabo Swinney the school’s permanent head coach.

“That was awesome. That was like Brittany Spears or something,” Swinney said afterwards. “It was great. It was awesome. We have great fans. It is a very humbling thing. It is a very humbling thing when people give you credit and all that stuff and appreciate something you have tried to do.”

Phillips did appreciate what Swinney did and a week later he removed the interim tag in front of head coach, making Swinney the Tigers permanent head coach. Since then, the Tigers have won two ACC Atlantic Division titles—with a chance for a third this week—and won the ACC Championship in 2011.

This week, the Tigers are attempting to win 10 games in the regular season for the first time in 31 years, while also playing for a shot at back-to-back berths in a BCS game.

What Swinney did to the Gamecocks four years ago was serve up a big helping of Davis and C.J. Spiller. The “Thunder & Lightning” backfield combined to rush for 179 yards and three touchdowns – all three scores coming from Davis, who scored on runs of 1, 20 and 2 yards.

The senior finished the afternoon with 91 rushing yards and exited Death Valley by blowing the student section kisses as the final seconds of the clock ran off.

Clemson totaled 383 yards in its most balanced offensive effort of the season – 184 rushing and 199 passing. The defense held USC to 92 rushing yards and picked Smelley off four times.

“Clemson was the better team today,” USC head coach Steve Spurrier said. “They had better coaches and players. The team we played today is an ACC Championship team. They thoroughly beat us.”

The Tigers used a little trickery to build a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Following Smelley’s second interception, this time from safety Chris Clemmons, Clemson used a play called Cock-a-doodle-do to add on to its lead.

The play called for Ford to stay near the sideline and act like he was tying his shoe where the defense doesn’t see him. And No one did.

The Gamecocks blitz quarterback Cullen Harper, and safety Emanuel Cook had Harper by the ankles when he went to throw the ball Ford’s way.

“We were supposed to block that guy on the edge,” Harper said.

But Harper stayed with the play and got out of Cook’s grasp enough to get the ball to Ford, who was wide open near the 30, like the play had been drawn up. After catching the ball, the speedster took it to the end zone for 17-0 lead with 8:33 left in the first half.

“We had certain personnel on the field. Two people came in and three of us ran to the sideline,” Ford said. “Coach (Brad) Scott acted like he was chewing me out, and I kind of bent down like I was tying my shoe. I peeked a little bit to see if they could see me, then he gave me the little go signal, and after that I ran off.”

The Tigers then used a third Smelley interception, this time a Michael Hamlin pick, to set up Davis’ 20-yard run off left tackle for a 24-0 lead.

After two USC touchdowns cut the lead to 24-14 at the half, Clemson put the game away as Davis and Spiller rumbled down the field, the last being Davis’ third and final touchdown of the afternoon for a 31-14 advantage.

Clemson later used a seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter to ice the game.

“That’s where we have grown as a football team,” Swinney said. “Our kids went back to work and snatched the momentum back… To be able to run the ball like we did and stop the run like we did, that’s how you win football games.”

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