Uiagalelei on Clemson-Carolina game: “It’s a season of its own”

Ahead of one of Clemson’s most anticipated games of the season against South Carolina at Memorial Stadium, DJ Uiagalelei has many emotions heading towards the historic clash.

Saturday’s game will be Uiagalelelei’s first meeting with the Gamecocks in Death Valley — an experience he gained from a fan’s perspective on a visit during the high school rivalry game — but it will be a first for the quarterback, though it’s his third season with the Tigers.

“Man I’ve only heard stories but I’m super excited,” Uiagalelei said. “I remember the last time I visited here and it was at home, the stadium rocked. It was a night game but I’m super excited to play South Carolina here at home, it’s going to be incredible. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Last year’s 30-0 shutout win in Columbia over the Gamecocks was an eye-opening experience for the California native, who grew up watching a very different college football rivalry in USC and UCLA.

“For me, I grew up as a USC and UCLA fan and I knew that was a rivalry,” the junior said. “But Clemson-South Carolina is about a hundred times bigger, and a lot of people take it ten times more seriously than the USC-UCLA rivalry, without a shadow. At the end of the day it’s a huge game and it means a lot to a lot of people.”

With the story at stake, Uiagalelei recognizes how important this game is not only to the Clemson fan base, but also to the program and its alumni. If the Tigers can piece together a win at Saturday’s noon meeting, Clemson will make history and win the rivalry eight straight years, a first for the decades-long rivalry between the Palmetto State pair.

“I know the game means a lot to a lot of people here in South Carolina and a lot of Clemson fans, and that means it means a lot to me,” said Uiagalelei. “For us as a team, Coach Swinney talks about it as a game in its own right. It’s a season of its own and we have to make sure we do our best to win it, eight years in a row against a great South Carolina team.”

Clemson enters his 119th all-time meeting with the Gamecocks, who claim a huge 63-38 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at noon at Memorial Stadium and will be broadcast on ABC.

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