Clemson fans will ask, why 1925? The Greenville News described the game as "a complete rout." The headline on October 23, said "Carolina Gives Clemson Worse Defeat in History." So why, Yazoo, they'll complain, are we looking back at this 1925 game? Well, my Clemson brothers and sisters, the answer is in something else that The Greenville News said: "It was a game such as Clemson men will always want to forget and Carolina men always to remember. To paraphrase the Outlaw Josie Wales; Hey, Clemson, there ain't no forgettin'.
In addition, there are some parallels to be drawn between 1925 and 2002 The 1925 game featured a confident Clemson team built around a strong passing attack, and led by an exciting young coach, William H. "Navy Bill" Saunders. Earlier in the year, Clemson narrowly lost to Auburn, 13-6, by taking to the air. According to an October 18 report, Clemson had a "flashing backfield" manned by Bud Eskew and Walt Martin, the "Greenville Boys." The paper said Clemson would give "Johnny Walker, the smashing fullback, who drove Carolina's line for many yards in last year's battle, the same target." (Clemson lost to Carolina in 1924 by a score of 3-0). The Clemson defensive line was so stout, The Greenville News described it as an "impregnable stone wall."
The 1925 Gamecocks, on the other hand, had little offense. There's, rather, was a reputation for defense. Interestingly, on October 22, the paper printed the Gamecocks' roster, including the weights of the Gamecock players. The headline pointed out that the Gamecocks had two players who weighed only 140 pounds, Jeffords a halfback, and Wingfield, a quarterback. The biggest Gamecock weighed 188 pounds-Avoirdupois. Along the offensive line, most players weighed 150 to 160 pounds. Lou Holtz would have dwarfed these guys! To make matters worse, the Greenville News stated the "Gamecocks [were] handicapped probably by injuries."
Still, in the end, no predictions were forthcoming. Like this year, the game was just too close for the "dopes," the 1920s name for sports prognosticators, to predict. On October 18, The Greenville News said, "The two teams appear to be evenly matched again, and anyone who essays to predict the outcome should be awarded a distinguished cross for courage."
Excitement increased across South Carolina as Big Thursday approached. Numerous articles appeared about the events leading up to the game. The papers even reported movements of the teams, where they spent the night, and the plans for cheerleading at the game. On October 19, The News said, "Clemson's campus is agog in interest as the date of the game with Carolina draws near." The paper noted that, "The men are in good shape. They are not discouraged by the defeats they have suffered this year."
Some of the excitement, mostly from a Clemson perspective, was reported during the week. On October 20, the paper said, "With 1000 cadets primed and poised for victory, the Clemson team is expected to show, on the fairgrounds Thursday, a ferocious and terrible battle, unsurpassed in the history of the great Classic." On October 21, The News reported that a train called the "Tiger Special, with 1100 aboard, roared through Greenville."
On game day, October 22, the paper continued to describe the movements of Clemson's team and fans. "The Tigers arrived in Columbia in the middle of the day on a special train from Clemson campus. They were accompanied by the entire student body, which will be out in the field in force for the first time in several years." Sitting here in our modern homes, we can only imagine the taunting Gamecock fans endured from the Clemson faithful that day. Their fans were burning with excitement for Big Thursday. But that did not last for long when the game started.
For Clemson, the 33-0 defeat was a total disaster. The Greenville News article said, "Against a formidable array of talent, the opposition of the Tigers was pathetic. They lost yardage when they tried to carry the ball and they could not get away with the passes, which was their only hope. Fumbles were as numerous as high school. The entire student body saw the game and wept."
On the other hand, the Gamecocks played well. "From what the experts had doped to be a tossup, the Gamecocks reversed their reputation as a defensive team and launched an attack that made the game one-sided. The Gamecocks developed into a scoring machine. It was a glorious victory for the Gamecocks, who for the first time this season, developed an effective attack. Rogers and Wimberly provided a fine running combination, while Red Swink and Jazz plugged the line. There was no fault to be found in the Carolina line. It simply played the Clemson line off its feet."
The paper concluded by noting that "Back in 1913, when Carolina defeated the Tigers 22-7, Clemson men sat in the stands and said, 'It'll never be as bad as this again.'" But on that fairgrounds field in 1925, it was worse. As the paper said, "Not in the history of the classic encounter have the hearts of Clemson supporters sank to such depth as when a furious Gamecock pecked out the eyes of the little Clemson kittens and turned them back with a 33-0 defeat."