By Rixon Lane
The 1987 South Carolina-Clemson game was one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of the rivalry.
The Gamecocks entered the contest ranked 12th in the nation. Clemson boasted its own No. 8 ranking, giving the two school their highest combined ranking ever. The meeting was also just the second time that the Gamecocks and Tigers had faced off on national television.
A win for South Carolina would give the program its fifth season ever with eight or more victories.
There were no bowl implications on the line. South Carolina had already accepted a bid to the Gator Bowl to face LSU, while Clemson was heading to the Citrus Bowl to battle Penn State.
Clemson took an early lead on a 2-yard run from Wesley McFadden late in the first quarter. South Carolina answered with a pair of field goals from Collin Mackie, who was on his way to setting a school record for made field goals in a single season. The Tigers led 7-6 at halftime, a bad sign for the Gamecocks. Going into that game, Clemson had outscored its opponents 154-56 in the second half.
The Gamecocks took their first lead late in the third quarter. Following a Tiger punt, Todd Ellis found Ryan Bethea streaking across the middle. Bethea outran a pack of Clemson defenders before finally being chased down at the 6-yard line for a gain of 77. On the next play, Harold Green took a toss left to score his 15th rushing touchdown of the season, breaking the school record held by George Rogers.
Clemson had chances to come back in the fourth quarter, but the Gamecock defense smothered the Tigers. South Carolina held the Tiger offense to just 166 yards, the lowest total ever in the Danny Ford Era. Quarterback Rodney Williams was intercepted twice by Brad Edwards in the final quarter. Edwards returned one pick 40 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 5:37 to go, giving South Carolina it first win over Clemson in Columbia since 1979.