Clemson vs. South Carolina has always been a big deal from Abbeville to York, in every little hamlet from the mountains to the shore.
Except now, you have the two coaches agreeing the rivalry has reached an apex with a national audience and implications.
For the first time ever, both teams will be ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll when they take the field in Columbia, S.C., Saturday.
“It’s sort of neat that we’ve got two teams in the top 10 that started the season there and are still there after 11 games,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said in his weekly teleconference.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, a former Alabama player and assistant coach who knows something about rivalries, said this one shouldn’t be ignored.
“I think this rivalry is right up there now, as big as there is in the country. I really do,” Swinney said.
That’s an abrupt course reversal for Swinney. Just two years ago after losing the game, he said his “kids’ grandkids won’t live long enough” to see this game blossom as a rivalry.
Clemson likely has an Orange Bowl bid locked up, so long as Florida State makes it to the BCS championship game in Pasadena, Calif. South Carolina is still in the hunt for a Sugar Bowl appearance, though it has plenty of company in the SEC. The Gamecocks need a Texas A&M victory at Missouri to secure a trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game.
First the Palmetto Bowl: South Carolina will be trying to beat Clemson for the fifth straight year, something the Gamecocks have never done. Clemson leads the series 21-11-1 since 1980.
Jakob Johnson, a four-star senior linebacker at Jacksonville Ribault who is from Germany and has been in the U.S. only for this school year, committed to Tennessee over the weekend. … Nate Brown, the four-star wide receiver from North Gwinnett High, was offered by Georgia last week. Brown is considered the most dominant wide receiver in the state’s largest classification in more than 20 years. Brown committed early to Missouri but says he plans to visit the Bulldogs.
BY THE NUMBERS
Alabama’s record vs. Auburn in the Iron Bowl series, despite a popular notion that Alabama dominates. Since 1982, Auburn leads 17-14.
Auburn’s ranking, the highest regular-season AP ranking for an Alabama opponent when the Crimson Tide have been ranked No. 1. The previous highest-ranked opponent was LSU at No. 5 on Nov. 3, 2012.
Receiving yards on third down for LSU’s Jarvis Landry (out of a total of 1,059), ranking him second in the nation.
HE SAID IT
“That’s a burden that we’ll shoulder because we know that with coach (Butch) Jones, we’ve finally got the right coach here. Every person in that locker room believes that 100 percent. So we’ll carry that burden so that in the future, (Tennessee) can win championships.” — Tennessee senior defensive tackle Daniel Hood on all the losses and frustration his class has suffered.
Compiled by Ray Cox