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Williams-Brice Stadium - Columbia, SC

No. 24 Gamecocks unable to hold off No. 3 Tigers

21 days ago
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Kelly Bryant threw two touchdowns to Hunter Renfrow and No. 3 Clemson remained on track for a third straight trip to the College Football Playoff with a 34-10 victory over rival South Carolina on Saturday night.

The Tigers (11-1, No. 3 College Football Playoff) won their fourth straight game in the Palmetto State's most cared-about sporting event, tying their second-longest run of dominance in the series.

The win was the 100th in Clemson coach Dabo Swinney's career. And combined with the CFP's top teams -- Alabama and Miami -- losing this weekend, the Tigers solidified their position among the top four heading into the Atlantic Coast Conference title game next week.

While Swinney was obviously happy to be state champs once again, he said it is more impressive how the Tigers have played under the pressure of returning to the playoffs.

"Every week for us is a playoff mentality and to see our team embrace that is really special," the coach said.

The Tigers entered wary of a rejuvenated South Carolina (8-4, No. 24 CFP), which finished second in the Southeastern Conference East and had its most victories in a season in four years. But Clemson's defense bottled up the Gamecocks and quarterback Jake Bentley for a second consecutive season.

Fittingly, cornerback Ryan Carter opened Clemson's scoring with a 12-yard pick-six on quarterback Jake Bentley's bad throw near his goal line.

South Carolina managed just 99 yards in the first half and 207 for the game, its lowest total this season.

Renfrow, whose 2-yard TD catch with a second left gave Clemson a 35-31 win over Alabama in the national title game in January, scored on passes of 4 and 61 yards to put things out of reach. Renfrow had his third career two-TD game, the other two coming in Clemson's national championship appearances against Alabama the previous two years.

Bryant completed 23 of 34 passes for 272 yards, his most since throwing for 316 yards against Louisville on Sept. 16.

Bentley finished 16 of 29 for 126 yards, two interceptions and a 38-yard TD pass to Bryan Edwards late in the fourth quarter. Bentley passed for just 41 yards against the Tigers in a 56-7 loss in 2016.

Muschamp said his team did not handle the moment.

"When you lose like that to your archrival," he said, "it's not a lot of fun."

THE TAKEAWAY

Clemson: The Tigers put on another big show away from home, adding to earlier wins at Louisville (47-21), Virginia Tech (31-17) and North Carolina State (38-31) this season. The ability to win on the road should serve them well playing away from home in the ACC title game and the College Football Playoff.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have made big strides this season, but are still no match for Clemson's dominant program which has outscored Will Muschamp's team 90-17 in his two years on the job.

UP NEXT

South Carolina awaits its bowl destination to be announced Dec. 3.