Dan Scott: USC - Clemson Prediction


by - Correspondent -
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OFFENSE

Much like the Maryland game a week ago, much of the focus today will be in
the trenches. Clemson's offensive line, already a patchwork crew, could be
further hampered if guard Cedric Johnson (stinger) can't play. His status
won't be known until pregame drills. If he can't go, Nate Gillespie steps in
and will be asked to help protect quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Gillespie
performed reasonably well in relief of Johnson against the Terps, but the
fact that he played more snaps in that game than in his entire three-plus
years with the Tigers speaks volumes about his experience level. And make no
mistake about it. Clemson needs a good game from its offensive line in the
worst way. Give Whitehurst time to throw, and he can attack USC's secondary
and see how good it really is. For the Gamecocks, the question remains "Where
do the points come from?" USC ran for over 220 yards against Florida a week
ago, yet scored just 7 points. Quarterback Dondrial Pinkins is expected to
make just his second start of the season, though Corey Jenkins likely will
play, too. If USC is to have a breakout offensive performance, one of the two
must come alive in the passing game.

ADVANTAGE - Even


DEFENSE

Clemson's recent struggles with stopping the run have been well documented.
South Carolina, knowing that, likely will feed the Tigers a steady diet of
power ground attack. Look for Clemson to load up the box and dare USC to
throw. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks will be shooting pressure at Whitehurst from
a variety of angles today, almost daring Clemson to run. Something's got to
give.

ADVANTAGE - USC


SPECIAL TEAMS

This game boils down to field position. Clemson's Wynn Kopp has the worst net
punting average (30.0) in the ACC. The one thing that could kickstart the USC
offense is operating on a short field. Take away the punting woes, and the
Gamecocks trail their opponents in every other special teams category. ADVANTAGE - Clemson


COACHING

Tommy Bowden is beginning to feel a little heat over his offense, so expect
the entire playbook to be emptied. Lou Holtz has shown signs of desperation
during his team's four-game losing streak. Again, watch for anything and
everything.

ADVANTAGE - Even


BOTTOM LINE

Try as I might, when it boils right down to the end I just don't see USC
scoring enough points to win this game. Although, if they have a shot at the
end, anything can happen. This year it's USC throwing deep at
the end of the game, hoping for a miracle. Justin Miller's interception saves
the day.


THE PICK

Clemson 17, USC 9

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