Clemson vs South Carolina prediction
The South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers renew acquaintances at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Clemson’s Death Valley, our own little version of the Civil War. It pits neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, husbands against wives, etc. You get the drift.
This will be the last home game for several Tiger seniors – including Chris Hairston, DeAndre McDaniel, Marcus Gilchrist and Jarvis Jenkins. Quarterback Kyle Parker is not a senior but he will also be taking his last snaps in Clemson, and unfortunately, we might be seeing the last of junior defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.
Several of the players I’ve talked to this week understand this, and all want to send these guys out with a victory. However, when I asked defensive tackle Miguel Chavis if he would be extra hyped up this week – it is also his last game – he said no. And he had a great explanation.
“Suppose that you and I are out somewhere, and we get mad and it looks like we are going to get into a fight,” Chavis said. “Well you are geeked up, and I am geeked up, and emotions are running high. Then when somebody gets hit in the face, nobody is geeked up anymore. Then it is just a fight, and it gets serious. Well Saturday is going to be serious from the beginning.”
I like his attitude.
When South Carolina has the ball:
This part of the game is going to be fun to watch. South Carolina has wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, running back Marcus Lattimore and quarterback Stephen Garcia facing off against Bowers and company. Jeffery is a big, physical wide receiver, and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said this week that trying to match up against Jeffery will be tough because of his height. He said it would be like trying to guard and NBA power forward with a point guard. Look for Clemson’s biggest corner – Byron Maxwell – to be on AJ a good bit of the day, with help underneath from safety Rashard Hall, or over the top with DeAndre McDaniel. Lattimore has had an outstanding freshman season, and the Gamecocks do a good job with their zone blocking scheme of getting him in space. If he is breaking off huge chunks, it makes their offense dangerous, so the Tigers’ focus will be to stop Lattimore and make Darth Visor abandon the run and go one-dimensional. Garcia has been known to throw some interceptions if he’s being harassed, so the gameplan is – stop the run, create turnovers through the air. Easier said than done, but Clemson has the defensive horses to pull it off.
When Clemson has the ball:
Running back Andre Ellington’s status for the game is still up in the air, but even if he is cleared to play, don’t expect to see him run more than six or seven plays. That means the load once again falls on the shoulders of Jamie Harper, who has been outstanding the past two weeks. The Gamecocks are seventh in the nation against the run, and the Tigers don’t need to abandon the run if there isn’t success early. Harper gets better as the game goes on. Part of the reason they have been so good against the rush is the fact that their pass defense has been so porous, but Clemson hasn’t exactly lit it up through the air. Parker has been efficient the past two weeks, but in this game, he needs to go from efficient to outstanding. Clemson just needs to keep pounding it at the defense, even without early success, and then try and hit some of the bigger plays downfield. One Clemson wideout told me this week that they feel that if the Clemson offense can score two touchdowns, and then get another score off of special teams or defense [or have one set up by those units], they win this game.
Unfortunately, their weakness matches up against Clemson’s weakness.
ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina’s Spencer Lanning is a dual threat, serving as both kicker and punter. As punter, he is 26th in the nation at just over 43 yards per kick. As the field goal kicker, he is 12-for-16, so the Carolina player with the most Clemson connections is a dangerous weapon whenever he is on the field. The Gamecocks don’t have anyone that shows up on the national radar in punt returns, and they are 12th in the SEC in that category. Little Bryce Sherman is their leading kick returner, but he is 105th nationally and ninth in the SEC. On the Clemson side, the Tigers’ Dawson Zimmerman continues to have a strong season punting the ball, and kicker Chandler Catanzaro made all three of his field goals last week. Marcus Gilchrist is the main return threat, and he is 24th nationally in punt returns (10.89 yards per return) and 32nd nationally in kickoff returns (26.12). So – punting is even, Carolina has edge at kicker, Clemson has edge in all of the return phases.
ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT TO CLEMSON
Spurrier is 3-5 against Clemson (2-3 while at South Carolina), while Swinney is 1-1 against the Gamecocks. It is amazing how cyclical college football can be – last year, these coaches were in the opposite seats. One fan group was complaining about a six-win season and the other was buying tickets for a conference championship game. This season, the roles are reversed. Next season? Who knows. South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is an old hand, as is Clemson’s Steele. Clemson OC Billy Napier is in just his second full season of calling plays, while Spurrier has been at it for a while. And both teams went to Florida a few weeks ago needing a win, and only one left with it.
ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA
Ok. Now take everything we have talked about above, all of the advantages and disadvantages, and throw them out the window. This game is going to come down to turnovers and execution. Try and find anyone who does predictions and see who has Clemson winning this game. Not many, if any at all. Vegas has South Carolina favored, and rightfully so. Overall, as a team, they are better than Clemson right now. But not that much better. And when the lights go on, the cameras begin rolling and the Tigers run down The Hill, it will turn into a fight. I have a sneaking suspicion that this one, in the cold night air, is going to turn into a classic. Alshon Jeffery is going to get his yards. Lattmimore is going to get some yards.
And this has nothing to do with Kool-Aid, or orange-colored glasses. It comes down to one thing:
I like Miguel Chavis in any kind of fight, and the TKO happens late. Remember, you heard it here first.
CLEMSON 23, SOUTH CAROLINA 20
David's previous picks - Actual score
CLEMSON 56, PRESBYTERIAN 6 - CLEMSON 58, PRESBYTERIAN 21
CLEMSON 52, NORTH TEXAS 10 - CLEMSON 35, NORTH TEXAS 10
CLEMSON 26, AUBURN 24 - CLEMSON 24, AUBURN 27
CLEMSON 27, MIAMI 23 - CLEMSON 21, MIAMI 30
CLEMSON 23, NORTH CAROLINA 26 - CLEMSON 15 NORTH CAROLINA 21
CLEMSON 28, MARYLAND 13 - CLEMSON 31 MARYLAND 7
CLEMSON 24, GEORGIA TECH 20 - CLEMSON 24 GEORGIA TECH 13
CLEMSON 31, BOSTON COLLEGE 13- CLEMSON 10 BOSTON COLLEGE 16
CLEMSON 16, NC STATE 20 - CLEMSON 14 NC STATE 13
CLEMSON 16, FLORIDA ST. 19 - CLEMSON 13 FLORIDA ST. 16
CLEMSON 31, WAKE FOREST 6 – CLEMSON 30 WAKE FOREST 10