The Clemson Tigers have had a great 2013 season outside of a pair of duds that led to their current 10-2 record. Those losses are what is keeping Clemson out of the ACC title game this weekend and why they have dropped out of the BCS top-10 this week after losing 31-17 to the rival South Carolina Gamecocks. Despite the loss to South Carolina, however, and sitting idle on Championship Week, the Tigers have an excellent shot at securing a BCS at-large bid while the Gamecocks will be left out in the cold.
Looking at their matchup last week, it’s easy to make the case for South Carolina as the superior team between the two. Clemson lost the turnover battle 6-0 as the Gamecocks scored the final 14 points of the game to grind out a convincing win on the final box score. It was the fifth straight win for South Carolina in the series as the Gamecocks only tightened their grip on control over college football in the Palmetto State.
But because South Carolina plays in the SEC and Clemson in the ACC, the Tigers will be playing in a major bowl this January while the Gamecocks will be relegated to a second-tier bowl game. South Carolina is ranked No. 8 in the country but is only the fourth highest ranked team in their conference. With only two teams per conference allowed into the BCS, South Carolina has no shot of qualifying in 2013. Clemson, meanwhile, is clearly the second-best team in the ACC behind the Florida State Seminoles. Assuming the Noles handle business and make the BCS National Championship, the Orange Bowl appears ready and willing to snatch up Clemson as an at-large bid.
Clemson will happily take the bid while South Carolina watches helplessly. It’s the unfortunate consequence for South Carolina of being just the fourth best team in your conference when the conference is loaded with top-10 talent. It’s a loophole that Clemson is ready to jump through, though, as long as they stay ranked higher than No. 14 in the final BCS Standings (currently No. 13). Is this yet another indictment of the failings of the soon-to-be-dead BCS system?