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Clemson Approaching Unmatched Succes vs. South Carolina

By Dave Holcomb
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In the Palmetto State, Clemson-South Carolina trumps everything else.

The final Saturday of the college football season features a ton of great rivalry matchups. Whether they usually decide division titles (Michigan-Ohio State), determine state bragging rights (Georgia-Georgia Tech) or perhaps both (usually, Alabama-Auburn), there is no shortage of exciting games to watch the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

But in the Palmetto State, Clemson-South Carolina trumps everything else.

For just the second time in the 122-year series, Clemson can record a six-game winning streak versus South Carolina with a victory this weekend.

Ironically, Clemson’s recent dominance comes on the heels of South Carolina winning five straight against the Tigers from 2009-13, which is the Gamecocks’ longest winning streak of the series.

Former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier started that win streak in Dabo Swinney’s first season. Swinney finally beat the Gamecocks for the first time in 2014, and with another victory this weekend, Swinney would improve his record in South Carolina’s biggest rivalry to above .500.

For Clemson, there's a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line, but this rivalry is so big, beating the Gamecocks is arguably more important than even a bid into college football’s coveted Top Four on Selection Sunday.

“We (Clemson) say that every game is a season of its own, but with this one we really, really truly mean it this season as a whole revolves around this one game,” former Tigers offensive lineman Eric McLain told the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. “You lose this one you hear about it for 365 days so it's super important you know for not only guys on our team, but our fans across the state and the country, you know they rather go 1-11 and beat these Gamecocks than you know win the ACC probably any day of the week.”

The Clemson-South Carolina matchup was so important to former Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson, he played the game with a torn ACL in 2014.

Despite his early troubles against South Carolina, Swinney has arguably led Clemson through its most dominating stretch against its archrival. The longest winning streak in the series for Clemson is seven games, which occurred from 1934-1940. During that time, the Tigers posted a 23.86 average margin of victory.

As Swinney’s national powerhouse program continues its journey into uncharted territory, Clemson’s dominance of South Carolina doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.