Bragging rights will be on the line when the South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2, 6-2) make the 132-mile trip to take on the Clemson Tigers (10-1, 7-1).
The matchup should be one for the record books. The Palmetto Bowl matchup has history that goes back over 100 years and these two teams are about as evenly matched as they come this season.
The Gamecocks are ranked No. 12 in the current BCS and feature a stingy defense known for making plays. After dropping two in a row to LSU and Florida on the road, the Gamecocks have reeled off three straight to climb back up the rankings.
The Tigers of Clemson are ranked No. 11 in the current BCS rankings and feature an explosive offense that can score from anywhere on the field. Other than a disappointing loss to Florida State, the Tigers have handled everyone else on the schedule with ease.
A bitter rivalry between two evenly-matched teams trying to make a statement?
Sounds like an instant classic waiting to happen.
Here's everything you need to know about 2012's Battle for the Palmetto State.
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio
Spread: Clemson -4 (via Covers)
Clemson is the favorite at home in this game, but taking South Carolina and the points would be the best strategy for potential bettors.
When two rivals like this get together, the game is sure to be a little closer than most would expect. Clemson may win this one, but it's nice to have the points to fall back on in a close game.
With the Gamecocks taking the last three games in this series, it's hard to pick Clemson until it proves that it can pull out a win.
Over/Under: 61.5 (via Covers)
It's important to note that Clemson's offense alone went for 62 points last week against North Carolina State.
The Tigers can put up points in a hurry. The only problem is they haven't played a defense like the South Carolina unit they will see on Saturday.
The Gamecocks are allowing a mere 17.5 points per game and possess the elite athleticism to slow down Tajh Boyd and Co. What you think about the over/under in this game says a lot about who you think will win.
If you like Clemson because of its explosive offense, take the over. If you think that South Carolina will be able to slow the Tigers down, go with the under.
Injury Report via USA Today (as of 11/21/2012)
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
Anytime there's a game between two top-15 ranked squads, there are BCS implications.
Unfortunately for both teams, they just barely missed out on representing their respective divisions in the conference championship game. However, they both find themselves on the cusp of receiving one of the few coveted at-large bids.
With the loser likely dropping in the next polls and the winner adding one more quality win to its resume, this game will give one team a very good case to be included in the BCS and the loser will essentially be eliminated.
Keys for South Carolina Victory
According to Josh Kendall of The State, Jadeveon Clowney expects to be 100 percent healthy for the game on Saturday.
Jadeveon Clowney walked out of practice tonight and said, "100 percent Saturday. Put that in the paper." Then he said a bad word.— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) November 21, 2012
That isn't good news for the Tigers, as a healthy Clowney will play a huge role in his team's upset bid.
Clowney is simply a freak of nature. His ability to rush the passer and set the edge against the run are incredible and he makes a good South Carolina defense great when he's on the field.
If Clowney is able to lead this defense by keeping Tajh Boyd on the run and keeping contain on the outside, it'll be a long day for Clemson.
The offense hasn't been the same without Marcus Lattimore, but Connor Shaw has displayed toughness and leadership all season. He'll need to be a leader who makes plays for the Gamecocks to score points and spring the upset.
Keys for Clemson Victory
Clemson will look to do what it does best—score.
The offense led by Tajh Boyd at quarterback is one of the most prolific units in college football and has the personnel to really test South Carolina's defense.
While all the preseason hype surrounded wide receiver Sammy Watkins, it's DeAndre Hopkins who has displayed a knack for making big plays this season. They'll need both to come up big against the Gamecocks.
To keep Clowney and the Gamecock defense on its heels the Tigers will need balance. That means feeding Andre Ellington the ball early and often to have him soften up the interior. If the Tigers try to go too pass-heavy, the Gamecocks' pass rush will be the difference.
If they can establish the run, the Gamecocks may be in trouble.
This is a tough matchup to call.
On one hand you have a team that has blown through an ACC schedule that only featured one ranked team. As dynamic as the Tigers are, they haven't faced too many defenses that have the personnel to keep up with them.
Conversely, you have another team that has played a brutal SEC schedule but hasn't looked all that impressive lately.
This one could go either way, but the fact that South Carolina is a bit more battle-tested could be the difference. The Gamecocks have the psychological advantage of winning three straight over their rival and have gone through some tough games this season. Expect the South Carolina defense to spearhead an upset.
Predicted Score: South Carolina 27, Clemson 24
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