CLEMSON, SC (AP) — Some teams would be happy with a season-defining win over Tennessee’s top-10. Not South Carolina, and certainly not Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler.
South Carolina followed up its 63-38 win over the Vols last week with a 31-30 win over No. 7 Clemson on Saturday, ending another College Football Playoff contender’s title chances for a second straight week.
“We wanted more. We knew this was our biggest game of the season,” said Rattler, who had 360 yards and two touchdowns. “These last two games will change the narrative for the program story.”
Saturday’s game certainly turned a one-sided rivalry on its head. South Carolina has played in the shadow of two-time state champion Clemson for the past nine years, losing the last seven to the Tigers (10-2, 8-0 ACC, No. 8 CFP), who were on a 40-game winning streak at home.
But the Gamecocks (8-4, 4-4 SEC) rebounded from 14-0 after 10 minutes to beat Clemson for the first time since 2013.
“Where’s my trophy? Where’s my trophy?” shouted cornerback Cam Smith of the silver Palmetto Bowl honor finally returning to Columbia.
South Carolina and Rattler, who threw for 438 yards and six touchdowns against Tennessee, ended any chance Clemson had of a playoff spot.
“We were the feel-good story in college football last week, but nobody thought we were good enough to win that game,” said Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer.
Antwane Wells Jr. had nine catches for 131 yards, including touchdowns of 4 and 72 yards.
Clemson was looking to set a series record with his eighth straight over South Carolina. And the Tigers were up 30-21 midway through the third period after Will Shipley rushed into the endzone from 11 yards.
That’s when Wells, the James Madison transfer, broke through behind the defense for a 72-yard scoring catch two games later.
After Clemson’s three-and-out, Rattler routed the Gamecocks to the Tigers 10 before Jeter connected with a 35-yard kick for a 10-of-10 for the season.
Clemson had no answer after South Carolina took the lead. The Tigers managed just 15 yards in three series when DJ Uiagalelei hit a combo 0-of-6 pass with an interception.
Clemson got the ball back one last time with 2:09 left, but Antonio Williams fumbled on a punt return and South Carolina’s Nick Emmanwori recovered.
“It’s a play here or there. It’s a one-point game,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. “There are many things that are demoralizing when you don’t win. Bottom line, South Carolina played better.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Will Levis has passed two touchdowns including a 3-yarder against Barion Brown in the third quarter, Matt Ruffolo has had a career-best four field goals and Kentucky beat archrival Louisville 26-13 on Saturday Fourth consecutive Governor’s Cup win.
The Wildcats (7-5) hobbled in with five losses in seven games but regrouped to overwhelm the Cardinals at all stages. Kentucky’s defense pressured Cardinal quarterbacks Brock Domann and Malik Cunningham, each forcing turnovers that led to 10 points. Trevin Wallace’s interception of Cunningham in the third quarter and 19-yard return to the Louisville 16 were particularly critical, setting Levis’ scoring pass to Brown three games later for a 23-7 lead that put the game out of reach.
Earlier, JJ Weaver had taken the football off Domann on a sack and returned it to the 6, setting up Ruffolo’s second field goal from 29 yards for a 13-0.
Levis was 11 of 19 passing for 188 yards. Chris Rodriguez Jr. ran 24 times for 120 yards and broke the school record with his 20th streak for 100 yards.
Ruffolo converted from 43, 29, 35, and 40 yards, both scoring extra points for Kentucky.
Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan rushed 22 times for 145 yards.
Cunningham, a four-year starter, replaced an ineffective Domann in the second quarter to take Louisville (7-5, No. 25 CFP) to 13-7 with a 6-yard TD run just before halftime. Domann’s 27-yard TD pass to Tyler Hudson midway through the fourth cut the deficit to 26-13, but his two-point conversion run came just after the check.
Both were struggling to get things going offensively for the Cardinals, who had been catching up all night after winning five of six last week and entering the College Football Playoff rankings.
No. 1 Georgia 37,
ATHENS, Georgia (AP) — A perfect regular season isn’t good enough for Stetson Bennett and No. 1 Georgia.
Bennett threw two touchdown passes and Georgia ended a straight undefeated regular season for the first time in school history by overcoming a slow start and beating Georgia Tech 37-14 on Saturday.
“It’s special,” Bennett said of the unbeaten regular season, “but we didn’t start this season trying to win 12-0. We want to go 15-0.”
Georgia (No. 1 CFP) was 7-0 down early and only led 10-7 at halftime. Then the Bulldogs overwhelmed the Yellow Jackets (5-7) with their running play to record 37 unanswered points and earn their fifth straight win in the state rivalry.
The Bulldogs’ defending champion is in a good position to maintain his top finish in the college football playoffs and play next week’s Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 6 LSU.
Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton ran for touchdowns. Georgia passed Georgia Tech 264-40.
“Every drive where we ran the ball, the running backs would step up and answer the bell,” McIntosh said.
The slow start was frustrating for Bennett, but the senior had no complaints about the finish in his last home game.
“I wasn’t really happy with our start today, but we still scored 37 goals,” said Bennett. “… We let the ball run really well today.”
Mistakes in the third quarter reduced the Yellow Jackets’ chance of spoiling the Bulldogs’ historic day. After a low snap, punter David Shanahan was tackled at Georgia Tech 17. That set up Bennett’s second scoring pass, a 1-yarder to tight end Brock Bowers on a fourth-down play.
Georgia Tech freshman running back Jamie Felix Fumble was restored by Georgia’s Robert Beal in the Yellow Jackets’ next game by setting up a 36-yard field goal from Jack Podlesny.