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December 1, 2013

Extra points: Three juniors walk

A look at some notes and tidbits surrounding Saturday's USC-Clemson game that took place -- mostly -- away from the playing field.

SENIOR NIGHT. Half an hour before kickoff, David Wilkins, Jimmy Legree, Victor Hampton, Chaz Sutton, Kelcy Quarles, Ronald Patrick, Jadeveon Clowney and Connor Shaw were honored at midfield as part of senior night at Williams-Brice Stadium. And while Clowney's ovation was loud, Shaw was clearly the crowd's favorite.

Wilkins, Legree, Sutton, Patrick and Shaw constitute the most successful senior class in school history, having won 40 games heading into the Clemson game -- already more than the record of 38 set by last year's senior class.

Though Hampton and Quarles walked with the seniors and Clowney, they aren't locked in to forego their senior seasons. Former South Carolina running back Kenny Miles walked with the seniors two years ago before deciding to return for his final year of eligibility in 2012.

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MEDIA OVERFLOW. Every seat in the press box was assigned and about 380 media credentials were approved for Saturday night's game, said Associate Media Relations Director Diana Koval. The only home game this season that received more media attention was South Carolina's season-opener against North Carolina.

Koval said the media attention for that game was inflated because of its exclusivity in the 6 p.m. time slot that night, the fact that it was the very first game of the college football season, and ESPN's marketing efforts toward the game.

THE LEAGUE. Several NFL scouts were in attendance, though South Carolina didn't have enough room to accommodate them with seats in the press box. The Houston Texans (2-9) sent one scout, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) sent three, including their general manager, Mark Dominik.

The Bucs scouts said they were in town partly because of Tampa Bay's road game Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and partly because they were enticed by the number of NFL-ready players on the field. They spent considerable time watching Clemson standout Sammy Watkins, South Carolina's entire defensive line, and South Carolina's running backs.

GOING BOWLING. A season-high 11 bowl representatives attended the game. The Outback Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC), Chick-fil-A Bowl (ACC vs. SEC) and Belk Bowl (AAC vs. ACC) each sent one apiece. Sending two delegates each were the Gator Bowl Association (Big Ten vs. SEC), Orange Bowl Committee (ACC vs. at-large), Allstate Sugar Bowl (SEC vs. at-large) and Florida Citrus Sports (Capital One Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl).

A scout from the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl also attended.

RECORD WATCH. The 111th meeting of South Carolina and Clemson marks the first time they have faced off with both teams ranked in the top 10. The win gives South Carolina its third-straight season of 10 wins or more after only having one 10-win season (1984) before the 2011 campaign, its second-straight undefeated season at home, and a program-best five-game winning streak over Clemson.

The win also extends the Gamecocks' streak of consecutive wins against non-SEC opponents to 14 and their streak of regular season wins against non-conference opponents to 20.

BIG GAME GARNET. South Carolina stuck to its tradition of wearing all-garnet uniforms for big games, while Clemson wore all-white uniforms and orange helmets. It was the same exact uniform combination for both teams as the 2011 meeting of the Gamecocks and Tigers, when South Carolina won 34-13 at Williams-Brice Stadium.

BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS. South Carolina saved two of its best pre-game options for its last home game of the season. Former South Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill led the stadium in the "Game-Cocks" cheer before the game, and country music singer Darius Rucker sang the national anthem.

Former Gamecock and current Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was also recognized before the game.

SOLD OUT. The game's attendance of 84,174 marked South Carolina's seventh sellout of the season. The program sold out every home game this season, a big turnaround considering 2008 was the last season where as many as four games were sold out.

'BEAST BOARD' The Williams-Brice scoreboard displayed the Alabama-Auburn game up until 45 minutes before kickoff, then again during the first quarter when Auburn scored the game-winning touchdown to clinch the SEC West. But the board never showed any footage from the Missouri-Texas A&M game that will determine the winner of the SEC Eastern Division.

The board also featured several highlight reels of South Carolina's games against Clemson over the past four years and one feature that likened Jadeveon Clowney and the Gamecock defense to sharks, playing Jaws theme music along with it.

BAND HUMOR. South Carolina's 345-member marching band had some fun at Clemson's expense with a halftime performance that featured "the southern sounds of bluegrass" and ended with a playing of "Old McDonald Had A Farm."

CAPTAINS. South Carolina's captains for the game were Connor Shaw, A.J. Cann, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles. Clemson's were Tajh Boyd, Spencer Shuey, Grady Jarrett and Brandon Thomas.

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