The realistic BCS championship hopes have long been dashed for the No. 6-ranked Clemson Tigers and the No. 10-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. However, there is still much to play for in this year's version of the Battle of the Palmetto State. Pride is most definitely one of those things.
Clemson is the higher-rated team, but it hasn't beaten South Carolina since 2008. Can the Tigers stop the Gamecocks' streak?
BCS bowl placement is another important factor.
No. 2 Florida State demolished Florida 37-7 on Saturday. The Noles had already assured themselves of representing the ACC's Atlantic division in the conference title game with their 51-14 destruction of Clemson on Oct. 19.
Because the Noles look to be headed for the BCS title game—barring an unlikely loss in the ACC championship—Clemson is in position to represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl.
South Carolina is sitting on the outside of the BCS conversation right now, but a win over their in-state rivals on Saturday night could change things. There are still a few at-large BCS bids up for grabs. To be strongly considered for one, the Gamecocks need to win.
Here's how they can accomplish that.
Gamecocks' Keys to Victory
Jadeveon Clowney Needs to Be Big
Statistically, Jadeveon Clowney has had a bad year. The uber-talented junior has just two sacks in nine games, but his presence has helped to free up Kelcy Quarles for seven sacks. Just drawing attention won't get it done for the Gamecocks' star against a stellar offense like the Tigers.
Clowney needs to be the near-unblockable presence he proved himself to be as a sophomore to disturb the Tigers' offensive rhythm. If Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd gets all day to throw, he will pick the Gamecocks' defense apart.
Establish a Solid Run Game
The Tigers' offense is too good to shut down completely. For South Carolina, part of containing the Tigers will be about establishing a formidable attack of their own. The Gamecocks will need to lean on their offensive line as well as sophomore running back Mike Davis.
He has 1,112 yards on the ground coming into the game. He'll need a big performance to help the Gamecocks control the time of possession.
Tigers' Keys to Victory
Take Care of the Football
Turnovers are the biggest potential pitfall the Tigers have to avoid. Clemson has lost the turnover battle in just one game this season, the lopsided loss to Florida State. The Tigers turned the ball over four times in that game.
Winning the turnover battle is essential for the Tigers' cause in this matchup.
Who wins Clemson-South Carolina?
Keep Penalties at a Minimum
On two occasions this season, the Tigers have committed seven penalties in a game. The first time was against the Noles; the Tigers were penalized seven times for 96 yards. The second instance was on Nov. 14 against Georgia Tech. Clemson still managed to win that one by the score of 55-31.
Against South Carolina, the Tigers won't get away with a high volume of mistakes. Keeping miscues to a minimum is the best way for Clemson to stop the Gamecocks' dominance over them.