Defense has bad night, Clemson still beats Gamecocks by 3 touchdowns

Defense has bad night, Clemson still beats Gamecocks by 3 touchdowns

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Defense has bad night, Clemson still beats Gamecocks by 3 touchdowns

Offense has record night against South Carolina

Was Dabo Swinney surprised that his defense gave up 600 yards and 35 points to their rival on Saturday? Absolutely he was. However, is he concerned?

“There’s a lot that happened in tonight’s game that we can improve on defensively, but the positive is that we won by three touchdowns,” Clemson’s head coach said following Saturday’s 56-35 victory over South Carolina. “But it’ll make us better heading into postseason. Now, we’ll focus on making more history next week.”

Second-ranked Clemson can make more history by winning a fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. No ACC team has won four consecutive outright conference championships.

“There’s never been a team to win four ACC Championship Games in a row, so we’re excited about having that opportunity,” Swinney said.

The Tigers (12-0) will get that opportunity next Saturday in Charlotte when it plays Coastal Division Champion Pittsburgh at Bank of America Stadium.

In the meantime, like Swinney said, the Tigers will enjoy their fifth straight win over the Gamecocks, the first time Clemson has won five straight over South Carolina in 78 years.

And though South Carolina (6-4) put up some yards and points on Clemson’s vaunt defense like no one else has this season, it did not matter because the Tigers had a record breaking-night on offense.

Clemson’s 744 yards were the most against South Carolina in series history, surpassing the 622 yards gained by Clemson in the 2016 contest. It also ranks third in a single game in Clemson history, trailing 756 against Wake Forest in 1981 and 754 against NC State in 2012.

Clemson gained 393 passing yards and 351 rushing yards. It marked Clemson’s first time exceeding 300 yards in both categories in a single game since the 2017 season opener against Kent State. It was Clemson’s fourth such game under Swinney.

The game also marked Clemson’s first time posting both 300 passing yards and 300 rushing yards against South Carolina in series history.

“That was an amazing performance by our offense,” Swinney said. “Trevor (Lawrence) was unbelievable in his first rivalry game. Our receivers made tons of plays. Hunter Renfrow made some amazing plays on third down. Our offense played maybe its best game of the season and had great balance. All of our running backs ran well, and our offensive line dominated and gave up no sacks.”

Lawrence finished his first game against South Carolina by setting a new Clemson record for passing yards against the Gamecocks. He finished with 393 yards through the air on 27-of-36 passing. He also had a 22-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins.

“That’s awesome. Really, I have to shout out my offensive line and wide receivers,” Lawrence said. “They make it really easy for me.”

Clemson recorded a school-record three touchdown drives of 95 yards or more, scoring on drives of 95, 97 and 98 yards in the game. It marked Clemson’s first time posting multiple drives of 95 yards or more since recording two against Wake Forest on Oct. 7, 2006.

Clemson also recorded a season-high 38 first downs, the second-most in school history and only two shy of the school record of 40 set against South Carolina in 2016.

“I’m just really, really proud of our guys and how they showed up ready to play,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “We knew that we were going to have to set the tempo up front, in the trenches. We told the guys that in the first two play calls, we were going to establish the run. They really took that to heart and carried over the momentum from the second half of the Duke game.”

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