Searching for answers vs. South Carolina

CLEMSON - Kathleen Swinney, The First Lady of Clemson Football isn't afraid to ask the question that every Clemson fan wants answered.

When is Clemson going to beat South Carolina again?

"My wife usually reminds me every morning when I wake up," said Dabo Swinney, after Clemson cleared its final hurdle before the annual grudge match with the rival from the state capitol.

But Kathleen isn't the only one in the Swinney household that needs answers. So does the oldest of the three Swinney boys.

"By the time I get to breakfast, Will hits me with it," Dabo said. "Listen, that's the nature of a rival game.

"It's great when you win. It stinks when you lose, because it never goes away."

This current stench is almost five years in the making.

Clemson hasn't beaten South Carolina since Swinney was the interim coach in 2008. In the last four games, the Tigers have lost to the Gamecocks by a combined score of 124-54.

Not included on the laundry list of accomplishments by Roderick McDowell, Tajh Boyd and the rest of the Clemson seniors is a win over South Carolina.

"Even though they've beaten us the last four years, that's in the past," McDowell said. "We've got to focus on right now. People are saying, ‘Don't get the thumb.' We're not worrying about that.

"We're playing Clemson football this year. We're not going to worry about anybody but Clemson."

Boyd echoed that sentiment.

"Nothing is going to change the way we prepare," he said. "We've just got to go out there and execute and compete when we're out there on the field."

That's been the issue, particularly in the last two games against South Carolina.

"They've just out-coached us, out-played us," Swinney said. "No excuses, bottom line. They've been the better team. They've proved that on the field.

"Nobody likes that, but that's the reality. We don't like it and we've got to go do better."

Regardless of who wins next Saturday night in Columbia, Swinney believes Clemson has earned its second trip to a BCS game.

"I think we're one of the best teams in the country. I don't have any doubt about that," he said. "We've got one loss to, maybe, the best team in the country.

"Outside of that, our guys have played and performed very well, have had some huge, huge moments. I think we're certainly a team that should be [in the BCS]. All I'm focused on is trying to win number 11."

And, right now, that's the only thing that matters to the Clemson faithful.

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