South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had a big night against Clemson on Saturday with 4.5 sacks, becoming the all-time single-season sack leader for the Gamecocks.
Clowney’s 13 sacks this season passed Andrew Provence (1982) and Melvin Ingram (2011), who both had 10.
Clowney came into the game battling a foot and a knee bruise that kept him out of last week’s win over Wofford. He returned to practice Tuesday and declared himself “100 percent” Wednesday.
USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said he challenged Clowney this week by “misleading” him when Ward told him Ingram had six sacks last year against Clemson. That number was not factually correct, but it did the trick Saturday.
“I told him I was coming in to try to get four or five sacks,” Clowney said.
12 Clemson seniors ran down the hill for the final time, one by one, on the Tigers’ senior night. It is a small but accomplished class. They entered the game with 35 wins, most by a Clemson class since 1991. Their 23 ACC wins are a program record. They have a pair of 10-win seasons, the first time that’s happened since 1982, and the first 10-win regular season since 1981.
Spurrier sets record
USC’s Steve Spurrier became the all-time winningest coach in Gamecock history with victory No. 65, passing Rex Enright.
“Sort of neat that it came against our big in-state rival,” Spurrier said. “To have this one at No. 65 makes it special. The ball is worth keeping.”
Ace is wild
Coming into Saturday’s game, receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders needed 30 punt return yards to set the single-season record. On his first chance in the first quarter, Sanders returned a Tiger punt exactly 30 yards to pass Dick Harris, who set the mark in 1971.
Sanders, however, wasn’t done. He also caught six passes for 119 yards, the most yards by a Gamecock receiver this season.
Fast start, slow second quarter
For the third time in four years, Clemson took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. However, after going up 14-7 with 1:22 left in the first, the Tigers were held scoreless in the second quarter for the first time all season.
Bowls in the house
Florida Citrus Sports, the Sugar and Chick-fil-A Bowls were in attendance Saturday night. Florida Citrus Sports has bowls with ACC and SEC ties. The Capital One Bowl matches SEC and Big 10 teams, while the Russell Athletic Bowl matches ACC and Big East teams. It marked the Chick-fil-A’s fourth consecutive week scouting Clemson. If the Tigers are not selected for a BCS game, the Chick-fil-A – which has the ACC’s first non-BCS selection – is their most likely destination.
Hopkins extends TD streak
Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ 43-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter extended his streak to nine consecutive games with a TD reception. That mark tied the ACC record set by Virginia’s Herman Moore in 1990.
Lots of yellow
USC and Clemson combined for 19 penalties for 169 yards. The Gamecocks were called for several crucial holding calls on offense while the Tigers were flagged for a few pass interference calls that kept USC drives alive.