South Carolina bounces No. 8 Clemson out of college football playoffs, ending Tigers’ 40-game home winning streak

8 Clemson is out of college football playoff contention after losing 31-30 to South Carolina, which ended both a six-game losing streak in the series for the Gamecocks and the the Tigers’ 40-game home winning streak that stretched back nearly six years before a current Clemson player was on campus. Clemson also saw their 68-0 winning streak after amassing a halftime lead under coach Dabo Swinney fall by the wayside.

Special teams took center stage in the Gamecocks’ victory, an apt statement for coach Shane Beamer, a longtime special teams coordinator. South Carolina kicked from its own 19-yard line and forced a fumble from returner Antonio Williams which the visitors recovered to run out of time. Punter Kai Kroeger had an incredible game with seven boots, five of which were down inside the 20-yard line. Only one of those ensuing drives led to points for the Tigers.

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed just 8 of 29 passes for 99 yards in the worst performance of his career and a mark that tied his efforts last year in this rivalry.

South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler followed up his six-touchdown campaign in a Tennessee upset by throwing for 360 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Antwane Wells carried eight balls for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

South Carolina’s victory over Clemson was the first since the Gamecocks beat the Tigers 31-17 in 2013. Connor Shaw was quarterback for that Gamecocks team, and he led the program with 152 yards per la pass and 94 rushing yards.

Here are more takeaways from Saturday’s surprise in the Palmetto series.

End of declaration at year 2 under Beamer

It’s been several years since South Carolina was a legitimate mayhem team, but Beamer has the program in its place. The Gamecocks now have back-to-back wins over top-10 opponents for the first time in program history. They’ve also dealt with conference games that could have been lost in years past, beating Kentucky and a Texas A&M team that ranks No. 4 in the 247Sports Talent Composite.

Beamer has quickly become a favorite in Colombia, and for good reason. South Carolina is talented enough to cause problems for top-ranked opponents in the SEC East and beyond. Returning to competition with rivals and at least swinging for the SEC East race is a huge step for this program – and should quickly become a valuable recruiting tool for the affable Beamer.

Clemson out of the CFP running

Even if Clemson had beaten South Carolina, it’s possible he would have needed style points as a potential conference champion to lose in the hunt for the playoffs. However, the rivalry loss – giving Clemson its second regular season loss of the season – closes any backdoor opportunity for Clemson to fight their way through. The Tigers took care of business in the ACC game with an unbeaten 8-0 record, but non-conference matchups against South Carolina and Notre Dame ultimately doomed them to the CFP hunt. Dabo Swinney’s program has reached the highest levels of college football by dominating the ACC, but that is no longer enough to compete on the national stage.

Tigers QB woes continue

Uiagalelei had a statistically best year as a junior, but his miserable effort against South Carolina only underscored why questions continue to swirl about the former five-star. Uiagalelei completed a paltry 28% of his passes and failed to reach 100 yards passing.

South Carolina took a one-point lead with 10:54 remaining in the game. Clemson had three full practices to try and score just one field goal to regain the lead. The first ended in a three-and-out after back-to-back failures. The second resulted in a Uiagalelei interception on the second play. The third ended in a punt after three misses.

Clemson managed to win 10 games for the second consecutive season, but Uiagalelei remains a liability after two years as a starting quarterback. Backup Cade Klubnik might be the answer, but it’s just plain nasty trying to run this list and this system in 2023.

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