South Carolina and Clemson got a lot of help Saturday when LSU beat Texas A&M and Arizona toppled Oregon.
The voters did the rest Sunday to push this week’s Palmetto State showdown into the history books.
For the first time ever in the storied in-state rivalry, the No. 6 Tigers (10-1) and No. 10 Gamecocks (9-2), who moved up two spots in the poll, will square off with both in the top 10 in Saturday’s 7 p.m. contest on ESPN2 in Columbia.
“It’s sort of neat that we’ve got two teams in the top 10 that started the season there and are still there after 11 games,” Spurrier said Sunday. “I know our state is proud of the two football schools. It should be a heck of a game.”
Last season, the two programs met on the gridiron as top-15 foes, with USC coming away with a 27-17 victory in Death Valley to extend its four-game winning streak in the series.
This year’s high ranking adds even more flair to a rivalry game steeped with tradition and bragging rights. Spurrier said there’s now “prestige” nationally.
“It just adds to some recognition for our state,” said Spurrier, whose team crushed Coastal Carolina 70-10 Saturday. “Both universities are pretty good at football and emphasize football and we’re trying to be the very best, just like (the Tigers) are.”
And there’s plenty to play for outside of this being a rivalry. Both teams are ranked high enough in the BCS standings to have a shot at reaching a BCS bowl. Whichever side wins obviously gets an edge in that area, depending on what happens with other teams and bowl selections.
“We don’t talk about where anybody’s ranked or anything,” Spurrier said. “I do like all coaches try to do and hopefully our players will listen to the coaches in that it’s another game. It’s a big game. It’s our in-state rival. We’re going to try go play the best we can.”
The Gamecocks don’t need a win to play the following week; they need a Missouri loss to Texas A&M this week, which would clinch the SEC East title for USC and put it in Atlanta on Dec. 7.
“Missouri’s a dang good team,” Spurrier said. “We know that. They’re going to be favored. We don’t need to worry about whatever’s going to happen out there. We really don’t. We’ve got our own game right here at Williams-Brice and we won’t pay any attention to (Missouri).”
USC is determined to keep its sights set on Clemson. Winning five consecutive games in this series would be a first for the Gamecocks, and they can extend their 17-game home winning streak as well.
“On potentially being a part of the first Carolina team to beat Clemson five years in a row, I think it’s important,” QB Dylan Thompson said. “But I think it’s more important that Clemson is the next game on our schedule. We just have to come in with the same mindset we’ve had all year. We’re just focusing on the game like any other one.”