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High-stakes Clemson game: Best and worst case scenario for South Carolina football

South Carolina football is on the brink of bowl eligibility after upsetting Kentucky, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Clemson.

After a hard-fought 17-14 victory over Kentucky, South Carolina football is heading towards a win-or-go-home showdown with rival Clemson in the final week of the regular season. The Gamecocks, with a record of 5-6, are just one game away from reaching the six-win threshold needed for bowl eligibility. This scenario seemed nearly impossible just three weeks ago when the team was struggling at 2-6.

When the Tigers, with a record of 7-4, come to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, it will be the first time since the modern bowl eligibility criteria was introduced in 2006 that both teams have had the opportunity to secure a bowl berth in their annual rivalry matchup.

The Palmetto Bowl rivalry has not felt this evenly matched in quite some time. Clemson had a seven-game winning streak from 2014-2021, but the Gamecocks had won the five games before that from 2009-2013. South Carolina's one-point victory in 2022 was the first single-digit win for either team since 2015, and it was the narrowest margin of victory since a 21-21 tie in 1986.

Under coach Shane Beamer, South Carolina has a history of securing clutch late-season victories. The energy surrounding the program after the win over Kentucky feels similar to last season's upset of Tennessee, which was followed by a historic win over Clemson. This season, the odds seem to be in South Carolina's favor as Clemson has struggled and is poised to finish outside of the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2010.

The game will take place at Williams-Brice Stadium, where the Gamecocks have a strong 5-1 record this season. The atmosphere at the stadium has been electric, and the home crowd has played a significant role in the team's recent successes. On the other hand, Clemson will be looking for revenge after last year's loss to South Carolina ended their College Football Playoff hopes.

While Clemson may not have as much at stake in this matchup, the pressure is on for South Carolina. A win over Clemson would not only secure bowl eligibility but also provide a much-needed boost to a season that has fallen short of expectations. The Gamecocks will need to handle the weight of this critical game, especially with many young players who have never experienced the intensity of the Palmetto Bowl rivalry.

Overall, the stage is set for a highly anticipated showdown between South Carolina and Clemson, with both teams vying for a crucial victory. The outcome of this game will have significant implications for the future of both programs, and fans can expect an intense and hard-fought battle on the field.

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