Clemson vs USC Preview and Prediction


by - Correspondent -
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Hatred. Taunting. Unbridled anger and even sporadic violence.

And that's just in the parking lot.

Once again, the War Within The State is upon us.

QUARTERBACKS- Early indications have Woodrow Dantzler getting the starting
nod for Clemson despite a gimpy ankle. Who will finish the game at quarterback
for the Tigers appears to be the real question, particularly considering that
Dantzler has been spotted around the Clemson campus with a still-noticeable
limp. In short, Willie Simmons seems certain to see action behind center; the
question will be just how much. For South Carolina, Phil Petty has bounced back
from a dismal 1999 season to lead the Gamecocks to respectability. With over
1900 yards passing and seven touchdowns, the 6-3 junior has found comfort in
Lou Holtz' new spread offense.

Advantage: Clemson



RUNNING BACKS- South Carolina's Derek Watson has blossomed into an All-SEC
caliber running back in just his second season, averaging over 91-yards per
game and an impressive 5.7 yards per attempt with ten touchdowns. In direct
contrast to the elusive Watson, backup Andrew Pinnock is bruising, straight-ahead
runner who gave the Tigers fits last year in Columbia. While Clemson's Travis
Zachery may not have Watson's breakaway speed or Pinnock's size and strength,
Clemson's junior tailback has been a star in his own right, averaging 93 yards
per game with 12 touchdowns.

Advantage: Even



CLEMSON RECEIVERS VS. SOUTH CAROLINA SECONDARY- While the Gamecocks have
been tough against the pass all year (194 yards per-game allowed), Clemson's
Rod Gardner gives the Tigers a slight edge in this category. Should the Gamecocks
be unable to stop the 6-3 senior on fade routes, a repeat of last year's game
could be in the cards.

Advantage: Clemson



SOUTH CAROLINA RECEIVERS VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY- The Tiger defensive backfield
has looked sickly over its last two games, allowing 961 yards-nearly 2/3 of
a mile- in passing yardage to Georgia Tech and Florida State. Led by senior
Jermaile Kelly, the Gamecocks have adequate ability to make things even worse
for Clemson's battered secondary.

Advantage: South Carolina



CLEMSON OFFENSIVE LINE VS. SOUTH CAROLINA DEFENSIVE LINE- South Carolina
has held opponents to under 104 yards per game on the ground. That combined
with a fierce Gamecock pass rush could make things difficult for the Tiger offensive
line.

Advantage: South Carolina



SOUTH CAROLINA OFFENSIVE LINE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSIVE LINE- Clemson's troubles
in stopping the forward pass over the past few weeks can be partially attributed
to a Tiger defensive line that has been positively inept at applying pressure
to opposing quarterbacks. While Clemson has been tough against the run, it will
be paramount for the Tigers to find some semblance of a pass rush to slow down
Petty and the Gamecock offense.

Advantage: South Carolina



LINEBACKERS- Last year in Columbia, Keith Adams almost single-handedly
derailed the Gamecock offense with 27 tackles, with a number of those hits coming
at the expense of Petty. Thanks to a concussion suffered this week in practice,
Adams' availability for Saturday's game remains in question.

Advantage: Clemson (without Adams: Even)



SPECIAL TEAMS- Both the Gamecocks and the Tigers have struggled with
field goals in 2000 while each team has proven to be explosive on punt and kick
returns.

Advantage: Even



COACHING- The job that Lou Holtz has done in just his second year at
South Carolina has been nothing short of miraculous. Just a few months removed
from being the laughingstock of college football, the bowl-bound Gamecocks now
head into Death Valley with a bit of a swagger. Somewhat overshadowed by South
Carolina's turnaround has been the job that Tommy Bowden has done at Clemson.
The foundation, it seems, has been laid and the Tiger program appears to be
on the verge of greatness in the not too distant future. With the way things
are shaping up, the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry appears to be headed to the
national forefront in the years to come.

Advantage: Even



PREDICTION-

Clemson- 28 South Carolina- 27

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