No. 6 South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10: Clowney takes hit from UNC lineman, critics

Jadeveon Clowney may not have had a stellar night, but the Gamecocks had little trouble with Bryn Renner and UNC. Photo: USA Today Sports

South Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the visiting Tar Heels and never allowed North Carolina to break in to a double-digit lead.The Gamecocks opened the year with a 27-10 victory and are off on the right foot of what could be a fun season. Mike Davis rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown for South Carolina and the game was brought to a halt for over 90 minutes due to lightning. But all anyone will want to talk about today is Jadeveon Clowney taking himself out of Heisman consideration.

Clowney was almost set up to fail when it came to living up to the hype and anticipation. We have all been watching his de-helmeting of a Michigan running back for months, on loop at times. Analysts from the college and NFL worlds have commented on it, debated it, praised it and more. There was the fictional debate on whether or not Clowney should even play this season or just focus on training for the NFL. There was the Clowney discussion that played second fiddle only to Johnny Manziel drama at conference media days, and not just in the SEC. We have pumped him up so much that it would have been nearly impossible for Clowney to live up to the expectations on Thursday night, especially since North Carolina was going to go out of their way to stay out of his way whenever possible.

There was an incident that centered on Clowney of course. North Carolina offensive tackle Kiari Holts appeared to dive intentionally in to the back of the leg of an unsuspecting Clowney. After letting up on his pursuit of UNC quarterback Bryn Renner, Clowney looked down field and was suddenly taken down by Holts. Clowney did not have to leave the game, but the film should absolutely be reviewed by the ACC offices and Holts is probably deserving of some form of suspension for his poor decision-making and apparent intent to injure.

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At the end of the game the final stat book read three total tackles for Clowney, all solo. No assists, no tackles for loss (or loss of helmet for that matter), no fumbles and no sacks. And with that, the pundits had their theme for the night. Clowney is no longer a Heisman candidate and his NFL Draft stock may have to be re-evaluated, which happens after every game, or half or quarter it seems.

But lets's calm down here people. Maybe his 2013 debut failed to meet your expectactions, but Clowney is still going to be a dominant force to be reckoned with this fall, and if you think otherwise you are just fooling yourself.

There is no mistaking that Clowney's energy was not there Thursday night. He admitted as much, saying he had a stomach virus after the game.

"I was pretty tired, but you have to play through that," Clowney said. "I was still coming off the ball and that's what matters. I might be bent over sometimes but when that ball snaps, I was getting off."

Asked about his critics on his performance, Clowney shrugged it aside, focusing on what was most important Thurday night.

"It doesn't matter," Clowney said. "We got the win. Did you see the score? That's all that matters."

That is all that matters.

What's Next for South Carolina? South Carolina hits the road next week for a huge match-up in SEC East play. Next week the Gamecocks travel to Georgia, who will either be coming off a huge opening weekend victory at Clemson or looking to even their record and make a statement at home. South Carolina has won the three previous meetings, their longest streak in the series that dates back to 1894.

What's Next for North Carolina? North Carolina returns to Chapel Hill to open their home schedule next week against Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders opened their season on Thursday night as well, coasting to a 45-24 victory over FCS Western Carolina.

Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.