Although the battle between South Carolina and Clemson might be overlooked on a loaded day of college football, this top-10 rivalry clash is certain to be a good one.
While a national championship is likely out of the picture for both teams, each side has a strong chance of reaching a BCS Bowl with a win. Additionally, South Carolina has a chance to play for the SEC Championship in the case of a Missouri loss.
With this much on the line, you can be certain that this will be a competitive battle from beginning to end. The winner will come down to which side can do a better job of following these keys to victory.
Establish the Run
Mike Davis has been one of the best running backs in the country, ranking second in the SEC with 1,112 rushing yards. He likely would have been ahead of Tre Mason at this point for the conference lead if he did not sit out last week's game.
However, he has seen his role in the run game reduced in each of the past few weeks. After getting 21 carries against Tennessee last month, he has since seen his attempts drop to 19, 15 and then 13 against Florida.
While Davis is still getting touches in the passing game, he needs to run the ball at least 20 times every game. This will not only move the football, but it will also allow them to control the pace of the game.
Otherwise the squad will be wasting one of its biggest weapons.
Cut Down on Penalties
It is really not a coincidence that when South Carolina struggles, it is called for a lot of penalties. The team had 14 penalties in the two losses, as well as eight in the overtime victory over Missouri.
Overall, the Gamecocks are not too terrible with an average of 5.64 penalties per game, but they still need to be more disciplined to survive against good teams. They certainly cannot afford to get a third-down stop only to see Clemson get new life with a first down.
Avoiding these types of mistakes will make a huge difference in a close game like this.
Make Plays on the Ball
While Connor Shaw might not throw for over 300 yards per game like some other stars, the senior has been incredibly efficient all season.
Not only does he rank 12th in the country in passer rating, but he has an incredible 20 touchdowns with only one interception. Clemson will have to stop this in order to be successful.
Fortunately, the Tigers have done a good job of this all year by allowing opponents to only total a 109.47 passer rating. The unit has forced 16 interceptions this season, led by Bashaud Breeland with four.
If the defensive backs can make plays on the ball in the air and force turnovers, it will slow down the South Carolina offense in a way no one else has before.
Block Jadeveon Clowney
While Jadeveon Clowney is not putting up the stats he has in the past, the defensive end is still a force to be reckoned with. With his size, speed and athleticism he can get into the backfield and blow up any play.
If the junior does not play a role in this game, Clemson will be able to move the ball well on offense. The squad ranks 10th in the country with an average of 42.3 points per game thanks to playmakers like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Roderick McDowell.
However, the one person who can stop this plan is Clowney. That means the offense better have multiple players focusing on keeping him away from the ball at all times.
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