Advanced outlook: Clemson-South Carolina projections


by - Staff Writer -
Clemson's offense ranks No. 1 in scoring offense and No. 2 among Power 5 teams in yards per game this month.
Clemson's offense ranks No. 1 in scoring offense and No. 2 among Power 5 teams in yards per game this month.

Rivalries often bring out the clichés about throwing the record books out -- and the like -- but a projected 27-point spread for Saturday’s contest in Columbia puts a damper on that kind of talk.

South Carolina hosts the No. 3 Tigers as no stranger to difficult competition this season, holding a No. 4 strength of schedule (Sagarin) and Clemson being its third top-5 opponent of the campaign.

Despite a seven-loss and postseason-less outlook, one of their four wins did come at No. 4 Georgia, when a solid South Carolina defense picked off Georgia QB Jake Fromm three times and a Georgia 42-yard missed field goal secured the 20-17 double overtime Gamecocks victory. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times in all to South Carolina’s zero turnovers and fell despite outgaining South Carolina 468-297 yards.

Here’s how the Tigers and Gamecocks shape up going into Saturday metrics-wise:

Efficiency ranks: Offense | Defense | Special teams

CU SP+ ranks (No. 4 overall): 6 | 3 | 103

SC SP+ ranks (No. 43 overall): 91 | 26 | 6

CU ESPN ranks (No. 2 overall): 5 | 1 | 120

SC ESPN ranks (No. 44 overall): 92 | 15 | 64

(SP+ is a metric from ESPN's Bill Connelly, formerly of Football Outsiders and SB Nation, that combines ratings for the five factors of efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers. ESPN’s Football Power Index-based metric has similar statistical factors weighing together).

The biggest difference year-to-year in the rivalry may be in the matchup between Clemson’s secondary and South Carolina’s passing attack, which torched Brent Venables’ group for 510 yards and five touchdowns last season.

South Carolina freshman QB Ryan Hilinski ranks 98th nationally in QB rating and is coming off of just 16 completions in 41 attempts at Texas A&M. The prospect of top target Bryan Edwards being questionable (knee) further worsens their chances against a Clemson defense that leads in the country in 20-plus-yard passing plays allowed (15) after ranking 85th in the stat last season (45).

The Gamecocks’ metrics defensively suggest a better group than traditional stats like total (56th) and scoring defense (50th) and rushing (64th) and passing defense (65th) bear out, but they meet a Clemson offense that’s No. 1 in scoring (55.5 PPG) and second-best among Power 5 teams in yards per game (589) this month.

ESPN’s SP+ continues to be bearish on the Tigers and projects South Carolina to cover the number in a 20-point Clemson win, while Football Outsiders’ FEI metric likes Clemson by nearly five touchdowns (34 points). The Tigers are 3-2 against the spread during its current five-game series streak.

Clemson has covered the spread in each FBS game since the close UNC win, bettering the number by an average of 11 points. As Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said on his call-in show Monday, his Tigers are just playing the Tigers and South Carolina is also sharing the field this week.

Metrics outlook | Prediction

SP+ projection: 87% Clemson (Tigers by 20)

ESPN FPI: 92.4% Clemson

FEI: 98.1% Clemson (Tigers by 34)

Comment on this story
Print   
Send Feedback to Brandon Rink: Email | Comment
Swinney updates injury status of Will Shipley
Swinney updates injury status of Will Shipley
Swinney confirms serious injury for defensive leader Bryan Bresee
Swinney confirms serious injury for defensive leader Bryan Bresee
Playing time breakdown: Defensive depth tested with lengthy time on field
Playing time breakdown: Defensive depth tested with lengthy time on field
LISTEN: Dabo Swinney's Sunday teleconference
LISTEN: Dabo Swinney's Sunday teleconference
Post your comments!

Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Breaking
Daily Digest