Rattler, Uiagalelei follow similar paths into rivalry game

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CLEMSON, S.C. – South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler and his Clemson counterpart DJ Uiagalelei have followed similar paths to the Palmetto State showdown on Saturday.

Both were highly regarded prep stars from the West expected to dominate in college. Each had on-field adversity and critics that caused a change in course. Now, the two get another chance to show how far they’ve come when the Gamecocks take on the seventh-ranked Tigers on Saturday in the Palmetto State’s biggest sporting event.

“He went through kind of what I went through,” Rattler said Tuesday. “That’s my guy.”

The Gamecocks (7-4) look to break a seven-game series losing streak to the Tigers (10-1) this weekend, as Rattler and Uiagalelei seek more evidence their problems of the past are behind them.

The two were near the top of most Heisman Trophy lists before the 2021 season.

Rattler was coming off a Big 12 title season at Oklahoma, a savvy sophomore with a big arm on his way to 14 straight wins as a starter.

Uiagalelei, also a sophomore, entered his first season as a Clemson starter as the heir apparent to NFL No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence.

Things, though, didn’t go according to plan for either one of them.

Rattler was replaced with OU trailing rival Texas in the middle of the 2021 season by freshman Caleb Williams, who rallied the team to victory and never gave up the starting job. That sent Rattler looking for a new location – and former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer – to reignite his career.

Uiagalelei and the Tigers, meanwhile, started 4-3 and missed out on the ACC championship and a College Football Playoff berth for the first time since 2014.

Outsiders were harsh, blasting Uiagalelei as the problem and planning for incoming five-star passer Cade Klubnik to take over the Tigers. Instead, Uiagalelei went to work on his body, his technique and his mindset, shedding about 30 pounds, improving his decision making and tuning out the critical voices.

Both have shown results on the field.

Rattler, inconsistent at times this season, has led the Gamecocks to a second straight bowl appearance in Beamer’s two seasons. He showed off his old brilliance last week with 438 yard passing and a school record six touchdowns in a stunning 63-38 win over then-No. 5 Tennessee.

Rattler is averaging 220 yards a game, seventh in the Southeastern Conference, with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“He’s a five-star quarterback for a reason and a starter at Oklahoma for a reason,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s a really talented player.”

Uiagalelei led Clemson to a 7-0 start and a No. 4 national rank, then was benched for Klubnik in the next two games in a win over Syracuse and the Tigers’ only loss this season at Notre Dame. Uiagalelei was steady and productive after that in victories over Louisville (31-16) and Miami (40-10) the past two weeks.

Uiagalelei has completed 65% of his throws with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions.

“He’s been through a lot, a lot of unfair treatment,” Rattler said. “He’s a great player and does a lot of good stuff.”

Uiagalelei said he met Rattler when he was a junior in high school and the two attended several camps together.

“He’s a good dude,” Uiagalelei said. “I like him a lot.”

Beamer said Rattler and Uiagalelei share a steady poise in all situations and a confidence in their ability.

“Spencer was fantastic on the field Saturday night and off the field since the day he got here,” Beamer said. “I would imagine it’s the same for DJ and the way that he is in their program also.”

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Nebraska’s leading rusher Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska opened spring practice with running back Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely to work on academics and other issues, first-year coach Matt Rhule announced.

Grant led the team in rushing with 915 yards and six touchdowns last season. He also caught 18 passes for 104 yards.

“Working on academics and general things. Nothing bad other than just our standards as a program,” Rhule said. “That will be day by day. Good kid. Just have to get him going in the right direction.”

Rhule said kick returner and reserve receiver Tommi Hill also is suspended. He did not specify a reason.

Backup tight ends Chris Hickman and James Carnie and reserve cornerback Tyreke Johnson left the team.