Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2) have won the last three matchups against in-state rival Clemson (10-1). Spurrier won't let Dabo Swinney's team forget it, either.
The magnitude of this year's matchup is unlike any in recent memory, though. Both teams are vying for an at-large BCS bid, although the Gamecocks' chances are likely slim due to the slew of SEC teams currently ahead of them in the standings.
Clemson, though, may have the best shot of the two. If the Tigers can handle the Marcus Lattimore-less Gamecocks, they'll likely get whichever bowl game will take them. The other ACC team in contention, the champion Florida State Seminoles, has already earned its automatic bid to the Orange Bowl.
This year's game is even more exciting because it's just the second time both teams have been in the top 15 when they've played.
"I don't know how you can add any more juice to this game," Swinney, Clemson's head coach, said, according to the Associated Press game preview (via ESPN.com).
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 61.5; Spread: Clemson (-3.5)
This is a tough game to call. Any time an elite defense squares off against an elite offense, anything can and will happen. Clemson has proved it can put up points against anyone, including a 37-point performance against the tough Florida State Seminoles defense back in late September.
Their defense also isn't very impressive, and the Gamecocks should be able to move the football with Connor Shaw. I'll take a high-scoring affair in this one, with both teams being unable to stop the other. Go with the over and give Clemson the win against the spread due to their superior firepower.
Injury Report via USA Today (as of 11/19/2012)
WR Bruce Ellington, Hand, Probable
QB Connor Shaw, Foot, Probable
WR DeAngelo Smith, Concussion, Questionable
DE Jadeveon Clowney, Foot, Questionable
S Sharrod Golightly, Hamstring, Questionable
RB Marcus Lattimore, Leg, Out for season
T Mike Matulis, Shoulder, Out for season
RB Brandon Wilds, Ankle, Out indefinitely
RB Shon Carson, Wrist, Out indefinitely
S Jerrodd Williams, Leg, Out for season
CB Darius Robinson, Ankle, Out for season
LB Justin Parker, Groin, Out for season
QB Tony McNeal, Knee, Out for season
CB Martin Jenkins, Groin, Out for season
South Carolina hasn't looked the same offensively since losing running back Marcus Lattimore for the season against Tennessee a few weeks ago. Their hopes of earning a BCS bowl at-large bid are slim-to-none barring some changes atop the rankings.
Clemson, on the other hand, has the ability to clinch an at-large bid of their own if they're able to best the Gamecocks at Memorial Stadium. Neither of these two teams care for one another, and each would love to be the team that spoils the other's postseason plans.
Clemson Player to Watch: DeAndre Hopkins, WR
Hopkins is the biggest star in a sea of big stars for the Tigers this season. He's averaging 17.2 yards per catch and has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark (1,171).
South Carolina ranks 23rd at defending the pass but really hasn't played anyone this season with the explosiveness of Hopkins and the Tigers' vertical passing game. His 15 scores and impressive yards per catch average will pose a problem all game for the Gamecocks' secondary.
The worst part for S.C. is that if they double-team to try to take away Hopkins, the Tigers will burn them with their other speedy options underneath.
South Carolina Player to Watch: Jadeveon Clowney, DE
Clowney is a physical freak at 6'6" and 256 pounds. He's got everything you want in an edge pass-rusher: determination, work ethic, explosion and instinct. It's too bad he'll be slowed by a foot issue that kept him out of last week's game against Wofford.
Despite drawing frequent double-teams, Clowney is always a disruptive force in opposing backfields. He's recorded 17 tackles for loss (9.5 sacks) during this season alone. His two-year career totals are 27 tackles for loss (17.5 sacks).
Prediction: Clemson 37, South Carolina 31 (OT)
South Carolina has dominated this rivalry as of late, but that dominance is going to come to an end at the other Death Valley this weekend. Clemson's offense is just too high-powered, and the Gamecocks will not have enough firepower to keep up with the scoring of the Tigers for four quarters.
I think South Carolina's defense will keep them in this game by slowing down Tajh Boyd and the Tigers offense, but ultimately it won't be enough. I see this one going into overtime and the Tigers coming out on top after scoring following a Connor Shaw interception.
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