What’s the only thing better than crushing the No. 5 team in the country?

How’s this for an encore? Beat Clemson.

To stop a streak, and beat a rival, it starts with belief, and that’s Shane Beamer’s first job this week at Clemson.

The Gamecocks certainly should be full of belief after dominating Tennessee.

The 7-game losing streak to Clemson is understood with the Gamecocks, which is tied with Clemson’s longest win streak in the series that the Tigers set from 1934-40. After the Florida loss this season, Shane Beamer continued to say he believes in this team, believes that they have the talent to play with anybody.

Clemson is hosting South Carolina in Death Valley for the first time since 2018.

What’s more, Dabo Swinney is also the only coach in Clemson history to win 7 straight games against South Carolina. That streak started after his Tigers lost 5 straight games to Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks from 2009 to 2013.

Clemson has done more than just beat the Gamecocks, it’s been a slew of lopsided affairs. The Tigers have won 5 straight games against the Gamecocks by 21-plus points. Not only that, South Carolina hasn’t scored a touchdown against Clemson since 2018. Last year, it was 30-0 in Columbia.

So how do you map out an upset?

It starts with Spencer Rattler. Asking him to throw for 6 more TDs is unrealistic, but he needs to be efficient, like in the Kentucky game when he was 14-for-19 passing for 177 yards with a touchdown and interception. Hope that MarShawn Lloyd returns from injury and can contribute similarly to his Kentucky output of 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Before sitting out the Tennessee game, while Lloyd has only had 2 games of 100 rushing yards, the key stat is number of carries. When Lloyd gets double-digit carries, the Gamecocks win. Lloyd has 3 games where he’s had 9 or fewer carries, and those are all losses for South Carolina. The Gamecocks are also 5-0 when he gets 11 or more carries, and both times he’s had 15 or more carries, he’s topped 100 yards.

The Gamecocks also need a controlled outing from Rattler with high-percentage throws. The Gamecocks are 4-0 when he completes at least 70% of his passes, and even 6-3 when he completes 60% of his passes. Yet the turnovers are key. In 3 losses before the Tennessee game, Rattler had a touchdown and 4 interceptions combined, compared with 7 touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ wins next to 5 interceptions.

Against Tennessee, he was 30-of-37 for 438 yards and a program-best 6 TDs. As important, he didn’t throw an interception.

Yet given the emotions in this rivalry, another ingredient to the upset would be for South Carolina to start fast like it did in wins over Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas A&M. And the game time could help that as the road team in a noon kickoff regularly benefits from the lack of crowd noise. And it’s an unusual development for the rivalry.

This is the first noon kickoff in the series since 2019 in Columbia and the first noon kickoff at Clemson since 2014. Four of the previous 5 matchups and 8 of the teams’ previous 12 matchups kicked off at 7 pm or later.

Of all the struggles for South Carolina this season, special teams has not been one of them.

Against Georgia State, the Gamecocks blocked 2 punts, and both resulted in scoop-and-score touchdowns, in the season-opening win.

Xavier Legette turned in a 100-yard kickoff return against Texas A&M. And other highlights included punter Kai Kroeger throwing a successful pass on fourth down to keep a drive alive against No. 1 Georgia. They also added 2 more blocked punts in a win over South Carolina State, and another over then-13th-ranked Kentucky. Josh Vann even joked to his teammates that they should stop blocking punts so he can have a chance to run one back.

Finally, the other key for the Gamecocks has been a key talking point for fans all season.

Jaheim Bell needs a minimum of 15 touches, something like 10 carries and 5 catches, for starters. He had 17 carries for 82 yards and caught 2 TD passes against the Vols. While Bell is not considered a true running back, it’s evident the coaching staff is trying to get him more involved.

Saturday, he had a season-high 5 catches.

Get Bell involved, and see what happens. Assuming Lloyd returns, get him involved and see what happens.

If they can combine for a minimum 30 touches, for starters, the fans will be satisfied, and have less to complain about. And coming off a 30-0 loss in this series, not to mention the streak, what do the Gamecocks have to lose?

A special-teams wrinkle is all but assumed, and given their production, the Gamecocks might not even need a special surprise.

Given Rattler’s star turn Saturday against Tennessee, the ingredients to author another upset are absolutely on the table.