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Clemson vs. South Carolina: Keys to Victory in Battle of Palmetto State

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 26:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers is tackled by teammates Drew Owens #88 of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Jadeveon Clowney #7 during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIINovember 19, 2016

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

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 16:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks warms up before their game against the Florida Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 23: Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers passes during the game against the Citadel Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

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.

 

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.

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