South Carolina ends Clemson's College Football Playoff hopes and 40-game win streak at home




Clemson's win streaks are done. And so are its College Football Playoff chances.

South Carolina stunned No. 8 Clemson, 31-30, Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. The Tigers had won seven consecutive games against their rivals and 40 in a row at home, an ACC record.

Clemson needed to win its last two games, this one and Dec. 3 in the ACC championship game against North Carolina in Charlotte, to remain in contention for a playoff semifinal spot.

The Tigers will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season for the first time since the format began in 2014. They won national titles in 2016 and 2018.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney holds his head after wide receiver Antonio Williams fumbled a ball to South Carolina during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, Nov.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney holds his head after wide receiver Antonio Williams fumbled a ball to South Carolina during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina Saturday, Nov.  

South Carolina got a 35-yard field by Mitch Jeter for the fourth-quarter lead and Marcellas Dial made an interception late in the fourth quarter. Clemson owned a 23-14 lead at halftime and was up, 30-21, after a touchdown run by Will Shipley in the third to cap a 75-yard drive. The Tigers fumbled a punt return as they were trying to get close enough for a field goal in the final three minutes.

There were nearly a pair interception returns for touchdowns on back-to-back offensive plays. South Carolina dropped its chance. Clemson didn't. Jermiah Trotter Jr. stepped in front of a Spencer Rattler pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Daruis Rush of South Carolina had a chance on a third-down pass by DJ Uiagalelei but couldn't make the catch.

South Carolina was poised for a touchdown to get within 23-21 of Clemson in the final minutes of the first half. Rattler threw a pass to Ju Ju McDowell, who had gotten behind Andrew Mukuba. McDowell went 65 yards, but Mukuba tracked him down at the 1. RJ Mickens made a tackle with KJ Henry at the line of scrimmage and then backed up to make an interception.

Clemson ruined its chance to take control in the second quarter on a disastrous trick play. The Tigers had just recorded a safety by Ruke Orhorhoro following a punt to the 2 by Aidan Swanson. But on the ensuing kickoff by South Carolina, the Tigers had Will Shipley run into an on-field huddle with four other players. They went different directions, Phil Mafah had the ball and went 13 yards before he fumbled it away. The Gamecocks punched in a touchdown and Clemson's lead was 16-14.

Uiagalelei was out in front on a run by Shipley and threw a key block that turned it into a 47-yard play down to the 13 in the first quarter. Uiagalelei ran it in from the 9, plowing through three defenders to the end zone for a 14-0 lead. Uiagalelei also had an 18-yard run in the first half, breaking tackles all along the way.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Clemson's College Football Playoff hopes dashed in South Carolina loss

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