The Drive for Five: Clemson vs. South Carolina prediction


by - Senior Writer -
Clemson hosts South Carolina at 7 pm Saturday
Clemson hosts South Carolina at 7 pm Saturday

Good old fashioned neighborly hate. Welcome to the Clemson versus South Carolina football rivalry. The Tigers have won four in a row in the series and look to add a fifth when the teams meet at 7 pm Saturday night in Death Valley.

Can the Tigers add one for the thumb? We are going to find out.

SOUTH CAROLINA (6-4) AT NO. 2 CLEMSON (11-0)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson (81,500)

TV: ESPN: Spectrum (35, 808 HD), DirecTV (206), Dish (140)

Radio: WCCP 105.5 FM, ESPN Upstate 97.7 FM, WROO 104.9 FM, WGVL 1440 AM, Sirius 119 & 105, XM 193 & 381, Internet 955

Spread: Clemson by 26

Tailgating/Parking: There is general admission parking at the C-1 Parking Lot, which is accessible from Perimeter Road, aisles 5 through 12. There is a shuttle available until one hour after kickoff. There is no postgame shuttle. The Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Center, accessible from SC-93, is also available for general admission paid parking. Shuttles operate from when the lot opens until 1-hour post game. Gates open at 8 a.m.

CLEMSON/SOUTH CAROLINA SERIES HISTORY

OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 69-42-4

HOME: Clemson leads series, 18-10-1

ROAD: Clemson leads series, 51-32-3

NEUTRAL: N/A –

LAST MEETING: Nov. 25, 2017 (34-10, W)

STREAK: Clemson, Won 4

BY THE NUMBERS

*100: Clemson enters this week in search of its 100th win of the decade. Clemson would become only the third FBS program to win 100 games this decade, joining Alabama and Ohio State.

*70: A win Saturday would be Clemson's 70th all-time win against South Carolina. Currently, Clemson's 69 all-time wins against South Carolina are its most against any opponent.

*52: Clemson's senior class enters its final game at Death Valley with a 51-4 record since 2015. A 52nd win would add to the school and ACC records set by the class with its 51st win last week.

*17: Sophomore running back Travis Etienne tied Clemson's single-season school record by recording his 17th rushing touchdown of the year last week. With one more rushing touchdown this week, he can break the deadlock with Lester Brown (1978), James Davis (2006) and Wayne Gallman (2016) to take sole ownership of the school record.

*5: After dropping five straight Palmetto Bowl contests to South Carolina from 2009-13, the Tigers are looking to return the favor with a five-game streak of their own. On Sunday, Clemson can earn a fifth consecutive win against the Gamecocks for the first time since a seven-game streak from 1934-40.

NOTABLE

*Saturday's game will be the 116th all-time meeting between Clemson and South Carolina. It will be the 110th consecutive year the two schools have met, as the teams have played every year since (and including) the 1909 season. That is the second-longest active streak of consecutive years played in a rivalry in the nation. The only rivalry longer is Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, as those teams will play for a 112th consecutive year (every year since and including 1907) on the same day.

*Clemson enters the game as the nation's second-ranked team, according to the Associated Press. A win over the Tigers would be considered the second-best victory and the top road win in Carolina history, based on the AP rankings. Five of Carolina's top seven wins based on the AP rankings have come since 2009, including a win over top-ranked Alabama in 2010.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA HAS THE BALL

The offense starts and ends with quarterback Jake Bentley. For the season, he is 177-of-272 (65.1 percent) for 2,244 yards with 19 TDs and nine INTs. He ranks fourth in the SEC in passing yards per game at 249.3 and fifth in total offense at 263.1. His 19 touchdown passes this season ranks seventh on the school's all-time single-season list, 10 shy of Steve Taneyhill's record of 29. However, his own fans love to hate on him, largely because the Gamecocks haven’t won a big game in Will Muschamp’s tenure – which means a big game under Bentley.

In two career games against Clemson, Bentley is a combined 23-46 for 167 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Those numbers will have to be different if the Gamecocks are to pull off the upset.

His main target – and the player the Clemson defense has to look out for – is wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Built like a running back (strong lower body) but with elite speed, Samuel is as dangerous down the field as he is on screens. He leads the Gamecocks in receptions (48) and is second in reception yardage (639, 6 TD). Bryan Edwards is second on the team in catches (42) but first in yardage (659, 6 TD).

The Gamecocks are 67th nationally in rushing offense, but have to find a way to be multi-dimensional if they want to score on Clemson.

There really isn’t a lot to say about Clemson’s defense – they are playing well and rank at or near the top nationally in most defensive categories, and it’s the last home game for guys like Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Kendall Joseph, and Clelin Ferrell.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

Trevor Lawrence has been as good as advertised and maybe even better. The former 5-star prospect is completing 65-percent of his passes, throwing for 2,095 yards with 21 touchdowns to four interceptions. He’s also proven to be dangerous on the ground when he has to get the tough yards and doesn’t mind pulling the football on the read-option.

The Tigers should have success running the ball against a depleted Gamecock secondary. South Carolina is ranked 92nd against the run, giving up 190.10 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. That’s…not good. Add in the fact that they are missing several second-level and third-level defenders and the Tigers should be able to run the ball with Travis Etienne. Etienne (1,157 yards, 8.5 AVG, 17 TD) could still reach the 1,500-yard mark before season's end, and freshman runner Lyn-J Dixon is averaging a team-high 10.5 yards a tote, rushing for 493 yards and four scores.

As for that depleted – and small – South Carolina secondary, it’s hard to imagine them having answers for Justyn Ross, Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, and senior Hunter Renfrow (if he plays). This has mismatch written all over it.

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

South Carolina ranks sixth nationally in net punting with second-year starter Joseph Charlton, who is averaging 45.5 yards a punt. Kicker Parker White is 13-of-15 on the year, and we mentioned that Deebo Samuel is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Bryan Edwards is the Gamecocks' top return option, averaging just over seven yards a return. Will Tommie handles the kickoffs and has 25 touchbacks on 30 attempts.

Clemson punter Will Spiers was better last week – perhaps his best game of the season. Kicker Greg Huegel is now 9-of-12 on the year. Kickoff specialist BT Potter (58 touchbacks) was lights out over the season’s first eight games, but has had a few returns in recent weeks. Amari Rodgers is developing into a dangerous option at punt return, and Derion Kendrick looks close to breaking a kickoff return for a touchdown every time he touches the ball.

ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

I’ve said it before – I am not a huge fan of RPO’s and read-options unless you are deficient in some talent areas. The Tigers should have accentuated the run more early last week against Duke but threw it 15 of the first 23 plays, which led to a slow start. When you have Etienne and Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice and Dixon and you’re facing this defense – call running plays and run it down their throat. I think the game plan is to do just that, and if the Gamecocks start to crowd the line of scrimmage, it opens up the passing game against a depleted secondary.

This also might be the best offense Clemson has seen at any point this season – the Gamecocks are dangerous on the outside and Bentley has found his stride. The Gamecocks might hit a few more plays than Clemson fans are used to seeing and the defense might be tested more that it’s been in a while. That’s a good thing. But as the game wears on, the depth chart and talent gap begins to show.

Tigers run away at the end and send the seniors out in style.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 47, SOUTH CAROLINA 17


GUEST PREDICTIONS

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 63-17 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 41-14 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 55-10 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 48-14 Clemson

Hannah Rogerson - TigerNet Intern - 48-10 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 63-7 Clemson

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Tony Crumpton Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Hannah Rogerson Pigskin Prophet
Furman 48-7 CU 54-9 CU 55-10 CU 52-7 CU 49-7 CU 55-3 CU 28-7 CU 52-3 CU
Texas A&M 28-26 CU 27-13 CU 34-17 CU 31-17 CU 28-13 CU 34-16 CU 31-20 CU 31-16 CU
GA Sou 38-7 CU 47-10 CU 42-10 CU 51-13 CU 38-7 CU 45-10 CU 32-10 CU 48-9 CU
GT 49-21 CU 31-14 CU 37-17 CU 31-14 CU 38-21 CU 38-14 CU 32-10 CU 38-13 CU
Syracuse 27-23 CU 45-17 CU 51-21 CU 48-21 CU 42-17 CU 48-20 CU 42-10 CU 45-20 CU
Wake 63-3 CU 38-17 CU 41-21 CU 31-16 CU 34-17 CU 45-17 CU 42-14 CU 38-16 CU
NCSU 41-7 CU 41-17 CU 41-20 CU 35-20 CU 35-17 CU 38-20 CU 31-28 CU 38-14 CU
FSU 59-10 CU 38-13 CU 37-17 CU 38-17 CU 35-17 CU 34-20 CU 34-12 CU 45-10 CU
Louisville 77-16 CU 52-6 CU 48-7 CU 55-7 CU 63-10 CU 62-16 CU 51-7 CU 63-3 CU
BC 27-7 CU 37-20 CU 34-17 CU 35-13 CU 42-13 CU 38-13 CU 42-17 CU 37-16 CU
Duke 35-6 CU 50-10 CU 47-17 CU 44-13 CU 56-21 CU 45-17 CU 55-7 CU 40-13 CU
Points - 13 11 13 20 15 13 15

* 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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