Clemson vs. South Carolina prediction: Can the Tigers extend the streak?


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson and South Carolina kick off at noon Saturday
Clemson and South Carolina kick off at noon Saturday

Nothing beats a rivalry weekend in the state of South Carolina, even if the programs are heading in opposite directions.

No. 3 Clemson has already clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title and a bowl berth and will play for the ACC Championship next week in Charlotte. South Carolina sits at 4-7, and even a win over their arch-rival won’t earn the Gamecocks a bowl bid, so Saturday is the season finale for Will Muschamp’s crew.

However, storylines abound heading into the 117th meeting between the two programs.

NO. 3/3 CLEMSON (11-0, 8-0 ACC) at SOUTH CAROLINA (4-7, 3-5 SEC)

WHEN: SATURDAY, NOV. 30 • NOON ET

WHERE: WILLIAMS-BRICE STADIUM (80,250) • COLUMBIA, S.C.

TELEVISION: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)

RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tajh Boyd, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)

RADIO: ESPN Radio (Marc Kestecher, Ben Hartsock)

SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 133, XM 193, Internet 955

CLEMSON/SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES HISTORY

OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 70-42-4

HOME: Clemson leads series, 19-10-1

ROAD: Clemson leads series, 51-32-3

NEUTRAL: N/A

LAST MEETING: Nov. 24, 2018 (56-35, W)

STREAK: Clemson, Won 5

NOTABLE

*Clemson will attempt to extend its winning streak against in-state rival South Carolina to six games. Clemson, holder of the nation's longest active overall winning streak (26), home winning streak (22) and road winning streak (11), will attempt to extend its recent run of victories against its rival. Clemson has won five straight against South Carolina since 2014 and will attempt to earn a sixth consecutive win against the Gamecocks for the first time since a seven-game streak from 1934-40.

*Clemson has won six straight games by 30 or more points, an ACC-record, since the start of October. A seventh straight victory by 30 or more points this week would tie 2011 Houston and 1976 Michigan for the longest streak in the AP Poll era (since 1936).

*Since the start of October, Clemson's weekly scoring margins have displayed a brand of dominance rarely seen in FBS history. Clemson is in the midst of a six-game streak of wins by 30 or more points, one shy of matching 1976 Michigan and 2011 Houston for the longest such streaks in the AP Poll era (since 1936). Clemson has also won four consecutive games for 45 or more points, presently standing with 1944 Army and 1972 Nebraska as the only teams since 1936 to do so.

*A win this week would represent Clemson's 10th victory against SEC competition since the start of the 2016 season. Clemson's nine wins against the SEC since 2016 outpace the totals of three active SEC members: Ole Miss (eight), Vanderbilt (eight) and Arkansas (four).

*Clemson is attempting to complete its eighth undefeated regular season in school history, joining the 1900 (6-0), 1906 (4-0-3), 1948 (10-0), 1950 (8-0-1), 1981 (11-0), 2015 (12-0) and 2018 (12-0) Clemson squads. A win would make it Clemson's sixth time finishing a regular season without any losses or ties. Clemson is attempting to open a season 12-0 for only the fourth time, joining a 12-0 record in every game of the 1981 season and a 12-0 mark in the first 12 games of the 2015 and 2018 seasons.

*Clemson (114) is attempting to earn its 115th victory this decade to join Alabama (123 in the 2010s), Ohio State (115 in the 2010s), Penn (124 in the 1890s) and Yale (116 in the 1890s) as the only major college football programs since 1890 to win 115 games in a single decade.

*Clemson is attempting to win its 27th consecutive game, dating to the start of the 2018 season, to extend the longest winning streak in school history and second-longest winning streak in ACC history. A 27-game winning streak would take sole possession of the 18th-longest streak in major college football history.

*Clemson is attempting to improve to 71-42-4 all-time against South Carolina. Clemson's 70 all-time wins against South Carolina are the program's most against any opponent.

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

The numbers are a bit misleading when it comes to South Carolina’s defense. The Gamecocks are 56th nationally in total defense, 65th against the pass, 64th against the rush and 50th in scoring defense. However, the defense has done well early in games but wavered late because the offense has been so bad.

The Gamecocks have playmakers on the defensive side of the ball in big Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Wonnum and linebacker Ernest Jones. They also boast one of the best corner combos in the SEC in Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn, who have combined to break up 16 passes. But Texas A&M racked up 319 rushing yards and the Gamecocks were torched by Tennessee through the air because of abysmal safety play.

That defense faces a Clemson offense that has scored over 50 points in four straight games and reached 45 in six straight. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is 10th in America in passing yards per attempt (9.2), and running back Travis Etienne is on a historic pace. Etienne has posted 873 rushing yards on 86 carries (10.2 avg.) and nine rushing touchdowns in the last six games, breaking school records for rushing yards in a six-game span and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (six). Etienne presently ranks seventh in the country in rushing yards (1,335), but has accrued his yardage despite totaling at least 65 fewer carries than anyone else in the top seven. By virtue of Clemson's propensity for building big leads and its commitment to playing so many players, only 39 of Etienne's 153 carries this season have come in the second half, including only four fourth-quarter carries.

The Gamecock defense has just a few choices – stack the box to stop Etienne and have the Clemson receivers running open against the safeties, or play back to cover the passing game and let Etienne do his thing. My guess is it will be a little bit of both.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA HAS THE BALL

Gamecock quarterback Ryan Hilinski leads a banged-up group. Leading receiver Bryan Edwards is listed as questionable, receiver Shi Smith is listed as probable but is battling a hamstring issue and leading rusher Tavien Feaster, a Clemson transfer, has missed the last two games with a groin injury.

If the Gamecocks are going to beat Clemson, they have to run the football. However, they have failed to top 80 yards or 2.6 yards per carry in three of their last four games. Meanwhile, Clemson has one of the top pass defenses in the country and will bring pressure from all areas of the field. The South Carolina offensive line has been a revolving door in spots and has allowed the freshman quarterback to get knocked around. Look for defensive coordinator Brent Venables to try and confuse the young signal-caller.

Another layer to this matchup – South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 500 yards last season and the Gamecocks rolled up 600 yards of offense. The Clemson defense – and Venables – have had a year to think about that.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Gamecocks have gotten production out of their special teams. Three-year starter Parker White is 17-for-21 in field goals this season (81.0 pct.) with three of his four misses coming from 50 yards and beyond. And, raise your hand when you realize you’ve heard this before, Clemson’s opponent has a punter who is one of the ten finalists for the Ray Guy Award. Senior Joseph Charlton handles the punting chores for the Gamecocks and ranks second in the country in punting average at 48.0 yards. Charlton has had 27 of his punts land inside the 20-yard line.

Clemson’s B.T. Potter hasn’t had many opportunities for field goals. Punter Will Spiers has averaged either 35 or 36 yards per punt in three of his last six games. In the return game, Amari Rodgers has found his groove on punt return and now ranks 16th nationally and is averaging over ten yards per return this season.

ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

Hey, it’s the rivalry game. Anything can happen. Throw the records out the window. We’ve all heard that. And yes, South Carolina doesn’t have a next week and this is their bowl game and they would love nothing more than to knock the Tigers out of a playoff spot. But they are banged up, lack imagination on offense and wear down on defense. Heck, even the crowd is expected to be smaller than normal. The Gamecocks will play hard early, but this Clemson team is on a mission to the postseason and nothing is going to stand in their way.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 44, SOUTH CAROLINA 13

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 42-13 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 48-14 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 56-10 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 45-10 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 51-6 Clemson

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Tony Crumpton Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet
Georgia Tech 52-14 CU 44-13 CU 52-17 CU 45-13 CU 42-17 CU 48-13 CU 47-9 CU
Texas A&M 24-10 CU 41-27 CU 37-20 CU 38-24 CU 38-27 CU 45-27 CU 31-23 CU
Syracuse 41-6 CU 40-16 CU 41-17 CU 42-13 CU 42-17 CU 45-13 CU 37-13 CU
Charlotte 52-10 CU 44-13 CU 59-10 CU 49-10 CU 42-17 CU 55-13 CU 49-10 CU
UNC 21-20 CU 45-13 CU 52-17 CU 38-13 CU 47-10 CU 45-10 CU 48-13 CU
Florida State 45-14 CU 41-14 CU 42-20 CU 45-17 CU 52-17 CU 41-17 CU 45-14 CU
Louisville 45-10 CU 45-17 CU 52-20 CU 38-14 CU 56-20 CU 48-17 CU 47-21 CU
BC 59-7 CU 49-14 CU 45-14 CU 45-13 CU 49-7 CU 48-14 CU 51-10 CU
Wofford 59-14 CU 56-7 CU 52-14 CU 55-7 CU 59-7 CU 55-10 CU 65-7 CU
NC State 55-10 CU 47-10 CU 51-14 CU 42-10 CU 49-12 CU 52-6 CU 52-13 CU
Wake 52-3 CU 52-17 CU 48-21 CU 52-13 49-7 CU 52-16 CU 54-17 CU
Points - 13 14 17 17 11 22

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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