Top-notch: Carolina-Clemson will be top-10 matchup for first time

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 24, 2013 

The first top-10 showdown in the history of the South Carolina-Clemson series needs no subplot, but it’s going to have one anyway.

The No. 10 Gamecocks will take on No. 6 Clemson at 7 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium in one of the most important games in the rivalry’s 111-game history. Forty-five minutes later, No. 5 Missouri will kick off against No. 19 Texas A&M. If the Tigers lose that game, South Carolina will win the SEC East and play in the conference championship game on Dec. 7 in Atlanta.

“We won’t think anything about (the Missouri game), really won’t,” USC coach Steve Spurrier said. “Missouri is a dang good team, and they are going to be favored. We don’t need to worry about that. We’ve got our own game right here.”

And it shapes up like a doozey. South Carolina (9-2) moved up two spots in The Associated Press poll on Sunday thanks to its 70-10 win against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, setting up the historic nature of this year’s Clemson game.

“Sort of neat that we have two teams in the top 10 that started the season there and are still there after 11 games,” Spurrier said. “I know our state is proud of the two football schools. It should be a heck of a game, looking forward to see what happens here Saturday night.”

The Gamecocks have won four straight in the series. A win this year would give them an unprecedented five-game winning streak against the Tigers (10-1). On top of that, South Carolina will be honoring its five seniors, plus juniors Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles, prior to their final game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Clowney and Quarles are expected to enter the NFL draft after this season.

Clowney (foot) and Quarles (concussion), as well as starting running back Mike Davis (ankle, ribs, shoulder), are expected to return to the lineup this week after sitting out against the Chanticleers, Spurrier said.

The Gamecocks won’t spend much time thinking about the historic nature of this game, Spurrier said.

“We don’t really talk about where everybody is ranked or things like that,” he said. “We are going to try to play the best we can. It’s the next game up. This game counts on the record same as all of them this year.”

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