COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Clemson coach Dabo Swinney always believed his team would show its championship heart in a difficult and frustrating season. The Tigers stepped up to show their coach's faith in them was not misplaced.

Clemson finished off a four-game November sweep with a satisfying 16-7 win over rival South Carolina on Saturday night, rallying after a 4-4 start that spoiled the preseason ACC favorites plans to add another title this season.

“Really proud of my players,” Swinney said. “Great, great response by all these guys.”

On Saturday night, it was freshman defensive back Khalil Barnes who scored the team's only touchdown, kicker Jonathan Weitz who made the three longest field goals of his career, and a defense that held Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler to a season-low 112 yards passing.

“Our defense is as good as there is out there,” Swinney said.

Especially against the Gamecocks who punted eight straight times after their lone touchdown in the first quarter.

“We knew we had to stay strong,” said Barnes, who also had an interception.

Barnes jumped on a backwards pass thrown by Rattler that bounced off Xavier Legette's hands. The freshman scooped it up and went 42 yards for the touchdown 35 seconds into the game.

Weitz, called back to Clemson by Swinney in September, had his best game since the return, hitting from 50, 49 and 42 yards - all longer than his career-best of 41 coming in.

“To do this here, yeah, it's special,” said Weitz, a backup behind B.T. Potter the past few years who put a financial career on hold for another opportunity at football.

When the game ended, the team rushed to a corner of the stadium to celebrate in front of the school band, family and supporters.

Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. planted the team flag in the Gamecocks logo at midfield as players took pictures.

Following South Carolina's only TD, a 1-yard run by Luke Doty in the first quarter, it punted its next eight drives.

The Gamecocks saw their last chance ended when Rattler's pass to Doty on fourth down came up short with 3:19 to play. Rattler finished 16-of-32 passing.

Weitz has had his up-and-down moments this year, including missing a 30-yarder late in a tie game with No. 5 Florida State that the Tigers eventually lost in overtime.

But he came up huge in this one, connecting on the 50-yard kick to put Clemson up for good, 10-7 before adding the others.


Clemson: This wasn't anything to brag about, but winning the rivalry game is always a satisfying way to end a regular season. The preseason favorites to win the ACC closed the year with four straight victories and can use this finish to springboard into next season.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have a long and anxious wait to see if they'll play again. The extra practice time is essential for coach Shane Beamer to keep this team moving forward after going from eight wins in 2022 to just five this season. “The hardest part about not getting that sixth win is not being able to spend the next month with them,” Beamer said.


Clemson kept things close to the ground against South Carolina, rushing for 219 yards on 46 attempts. Phil Mafah led with 89 yards and Will Shipley had 80. Quarterback Cade Klubnik, who threw for just 100 yards, rushed for 52.


The rivalry featured an appearance from former President Donald Trump, who was guest of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. The two strolled on the field at halftime with Trump waving to the sold-out crowd of 80,172. He was cheered loudly - with a few jeers - and chants of “U-S-A” broke out.


Clemson will await to find out its bowl destination on Dec. 3.

South Carolina has a longshot chance at getting in if there are not enough six-win teams to fill the 82 bowl slots.


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