An Easy Breakdown of the Clemson-South Carolina Rivalry

College rivalries have become synonymous with university athletics. Most of this competition is between schools in the same state, and North Carolina is no exception. Within SC, the biggest college rivalry is between Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. These two institutions are located less than 150 miles from one another, and their rivalry has lasted more than a century.

Whether you live in South Carolina or are visiting the state, it’s possible that this rivalry will pop up in conversation. By reading the sections below, you can learn everything you need to know about the rivalry before you find yourself in the middle of a heated argument about which school is better.

Which schools are involved?

The Clemson-South Carolina rivalry exists between Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. However, if you hear about this rivalry, it’s also possible that people will refer to each school by its respective mascot.

Therefore, it’s important that you know Clemson is represented by a tiger, and South Carolina’s mascot is the gamecock. Both of these mascots have rich histories for each school, and most loyal fans will refer to their school by these mascots.

How the Rivalry Started

Many college rivalries start as fun ways to increase competition between universities within the same state. However, that’s not the case with the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry. This is one of the longest-running rivalries within Division I sports, and it was born out of political tension.

Prior to Clemson’s formation in 1889, what is today known as the University of South Carolina was called South Carolina College. This school began several decades before Clemson, and it’s one of the oldest in the state. Clemson was founded in order to educate the state’s next generation of farmers. While agricultural classes were being offered at South Carolina, many believed the education wasn’t substantial enough. South Carolina College perceived this as a slight, which is where the tension began.

After a close vote, Clemson was founded. At the time, it was referred to as the Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina. Since South Carolina College didn’t want Clemson to be founded, the two schools have never gotten along.

The Palmetto Bowl

Considering the unsavory conditions that birthed this rivalry, it’s no wonder that competition can still be found between these two institutions. Over the years, the rivalry has become so infamous that it has its own name. Now, the annual game that takes place between Clemson and South Carolina is referred to as the Palmetto Bowl.

Since South Carolina is referred to as the Palmetto State, this moniker has been adopted for the state’s most competitive football game. The exact date for the game changes each year, and the 2019 game is set to take place on November 30 at the Williams-Brice Stadium.

Regardless of where the game is held, it consistently draws attention throughout the state. If you’re in South Carolina during the Palmetto Bowl, you’re bound to encounter fans throughout the state.

Which team is better?

This is a question you’d best not ask in public. The Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is known to be fierce, and you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of an argument. Due to matters of loyalty and city pride, people tend to favor:

  • Whichever school they went to.
  • The school that’s closer to where they live.
  • Whichever school they have family ties to.

However, if you’re looking at the facts, Clemson has won more games than the University of South Carolina. Clemson has won 70 Palmetto Bowls. On the other hand, University of South Carolina has won 42.

When Clemson plays in 2019, it will be to defend their five-year-long winning streak. University of South Carolina had previously had such a streak from 2009 through 2013 before passing the title over to Clemson.

What do they win?

While some may view this game as nothing more than a college sport, to die hard fans in South Carolina, it’s so much more. Whichever team wins has bragging rights for the rest of the year until the next Palmetto Bowl comes around and the losing team has a chance to regain the title.