Clemson will host South Carolina in the annual Palmetto Bowl this Saturday at Memorial Stadium as the Tigers look to prolong their win streak in the 126-year-long rivalry.
Founded in 1889 and 1801, respectively, Clemson and USC are two of the most notable universities in South Carolina. With both their proximity and size, there is understandably animosity between the two schools.
City versus rural, garnet versus orange, Gamecocks versus Tigers — the two public universities have stark differences in their identities but meet every year for the same honored event: college football.
Clemson currently boasts a seven-game win streak against the Gamecocks, dating back to 2013. Overall, the Tigers have held a 72-42-4 record since 1896, when the Tigers first faced the Gamecocks on the field for a late November game.
In the first matchup, the Gamecocks hosted the game on its home field in Columbia, South Carolina, winning the competition 12-6. Clemson then went on to win the next four games before the Gamecocks got back on track with a win in 1902.
In the 1902 matchup, Clemson and South Carolina fans were so erratic after the game that the two programs did not play again until 1909. In fact, a poster with a Gamecock standing on top of a tiger caused so much commotion amongst fans that the rivalry game halted for the next six seasons, according to USC's undergraduate admissions.
While Clemson currently holds the longest win streak of all time at seven, the team also held this streak from 1934-1940. Clemson will hold the longest win streak if the Tigers prove victorious on Saturday. The Gamecocks' longest streak is five games, held between 2009-2013.
Wins aside, Clemson and South Carolina are not without their own rivalry traditions. Cocky's Funeral is a Clemson pep rally event in which a Papier-mâché Cocky, USC's mascot, is burned. This event sets the Clemson attitude of being ready to go "all in" for the game.
Likewise, South Carolina hosts Tiger Burn, where a wood and paper tiger structure is burned in a similar fashion. Originally, a life-sized stuffed tiger was burned in a roasted style over a fire pit for students to watch beginning in the early 1900s. From the start, there was clear antagonism between the two teams.
The trophy, accented with a 12-inch Palmetto tree atop its base, replaced the original golden football Hardee trophy in 2015. The trophy is an iconic part of one of the nation’s longest-running non-conference rivalry matchups, decked with orange tiger paws and silver Carolina Cs.
In 2021, Clemson dominated South Carolina’s home turf 30-0. For this year, ESPN projects that Clemson has an 88.9% chance of winning. Along with defending their streak against the Gamecocks, the Tigers will have their home-game winning streak on the line, which currently sits at 40 games.
While the rivalry on the gridiron takes the spotlight, it also translates to off the field.
Sports are often paired with friendly competition, and this is also seen in the Blood Bowl hosted by BloodConnection. For nearly forty years, the American Red Cross' Blood Connection donation center has partnered with the Palmetto Bowl competitors to test which school can donate the most blood. Held for five days the week before Thanksgiving break, the local communities donate thousands of units of blood each year, saving lives in competition.
Clemson won the Blood Bowl this year with 3,269 pints of blood donated.
The blood may come in handy on Saturday when the Tigers and Gamecocks battle it out for the 119th time for the crown of the Palmetto State.