Connor Shaw always had his detractors.
He couldnt beat a ranked opponent on the road. He only beat two ranked opponents among his 16-game undefeated home winning streak.
They were silenced Saturday.
Shaw beat No. 6 Clemson and it was nearly a one-man show as he left Williams-Brice Stadium unblemished as a starter. It was his third win over a ranked team at home, but two have been over the archrival Tigers.
Its just special, man, Shaw said. This is why we came to South Carolina. The seniors not losing to them, is huge.
Shaw also beat No. 5 Georgia in 2012.
Former quarterback Steve Taneyhill was on hand to lead the crowd in the Game-Cocks cheer before the teams entrance. Alum Darius Rucker performed the national anthem, and former USC baseball star Jackie Bradley Jr. was honored during a second-quarter timeout.
Seniors and juniors
On Senior Day, USC recognized seniors Shaw, Ronald Patrick, Chaz Sutton, Jimmy Legree and David Wilkins before the game, and also honored juniors Kelcy Quarles, Jadeveon Clowney and Victor Hampton.
Clowney is considered a lock to go to the NFL after this season, and Quarles father told The State that his son also was leaving. Hampton confirmed that he has pretty much decided to go pro after this season.
A national game
The game was the first in the rivalrys history where each team was ranked in the Top 10 of The Associated Press Top 25. It also was part of a streak that left USC-Clemson as the only season-ending rivalry in the country that has featured three straight matchups where each team was in the top 20.
Other top 20 matchups over the past three years were series between LSU and Alabama, LSU and Florida and Oregon and Stanford.
Representatives from the Outback, Gator, Capital One and Sugar bowls were at Williams-Brice Stadium to scout USC, while reps from the Orange and Belk bowls were there for Clemson. A rep from the Chick-fil-A Bowl was there for each team.
As expected, Quarles, Clowney and running back Mike Davis all started the game after missing last weeks win over Coastal Carolina. Safety Brison Williams (forearm) also started the game.
For Clemson, safety Travis Blanks (torn ACL) and linebacker B.J. Goodson (groin) missed the USC game after being injured against The Citadel last week.
Chaz Elder sustained a concussion in the third quarter and did not return.