The Palmetto Bowl : Rivalry Week, South Carolina Style
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In the Palmetto state, you bleed garnet or orange.
Separated by a little over 100 miles, Clemson and South Carolina have a rivalry that ranks among the best of them. The Palmetto Bowl is the third-longest uninterrupted series in college football. It may be lacking in national prominence, but it is just as full of mutual abhorrence as Auburn-Alabama, Michigan-Ohio State, USC-UCLA, and Georgia-Florida.
South Carolinian allegiances are intense and emotions always run high. But this year, hard as it is for the locals to believe, the occasion is even more intense.
For one, both teams are in the Top 10 for the first time in the 111 years this rivalry has existed. Both want to prove why they deserve a BCS berth and the $17million payout that goes with it.
But rivalry week is for the fans. Normal games may sting with a loss, but when those happen in rivalries, it's like somone is gouging your eye out with an ice pick. The effects don't just linger for a day or a week. They're the impetus for a year of bragging rights.
The Gamecocks have been dominating the Tigers lately and currently hold a four-game winning streak. This isn't a first, but it's definitely rare. The last time we saw it was 1951-1954. South Carolina never has won five straight, but there's a first time for everything.
This is the last hurrah for Clemson's quarterback Tajh Boyd and South Carolina's pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Last year, Clowney left his mark on the Tigers with his dynamic play. Boyd, a fifth-year senior, doesn't want to leave Clemson without a win.
To add insult to injury, both Clowney and Boyd were Heisman Trophy contenders when the year began, and both have slid down the slope of spotty performance, all the way out of realistice contention. Clowney has been plagued with injuries, while Boyd got a beatdown by Florida State.
So come Saturday evening there will be roaring tigers and cocking roosters. One will be hanging under the palmetto tree; the other from it.