Clemson-South Carolina Preview: Gamecocks Hope To Reverse Rivalry Trend
The Gamecocks and Tigers will tee it up for the 107th time on Saturday in the Battle For The Palmetto State.
There is no love lost between these two as was evidenced when I asked bloggers from both teams what this rivalry means.
Clemson would like their sixth win in a row this season and a seventh win in the last eight meetings between the two. But they also have an ACC Championship Game to look forward to next week.
South Carolina, on the other hand, is hoping to break a three-game losing streak this season and beat a potential conference champion and their archrival.
Keys for Clemson
1. Spiller Time
C.J. Spiller is the most dynamic player in college football, having scored running the ball, receiving the ball, returning the ball, and throwing the ball this season.
The Tigers have done a very good job at making sure he gets plenty of touches this season. That needs to continue on Saturday.
South Carolina must know where the Heisman candidate is at all times, especially coming out of the backfield on receptions.
The Gamecocks may just decide to kick the ball out of bounds too, instead of allowing a fourth return for touchdown by Spiller this season.
2. Pressure Garcia
Clemson's defense is at its best when it can rush the passer and allow ball-hawking safety DeAndre McDaniel to roam the secondary. McDaniel is second in the nation with eight interceptions.
If the interceptions weren't enough, the Tigers lead the ACC and rank 11th nationally with 33 sacks.
South Carolina's Stephen Garcia has really improved his pocket awareness this season, but he needs to be extra sharp on Saturday.
Getting the ball out of his hands quickly will be necessary, and preferably the ball is going to go to talented freshman Alshon Jeffery a lot.
Keys for South Carolina
1. Establish a Running Game
The reason here is two-fold: to keep the ball away from a Tiger team averaging 39 points per game over their past three with ball control, and to keep the "Bamberg Bookends" from pinning their ears back to rush Garcia.
The Gamecocks have not had much success running the ball this year, but Brian Maddox emerged in the Florida game as a potential threat with 82 rush yards.
For Clemson, if they stuff the run early, I can see where Steve Spurrier would go almost exclusively with the pass.
2. Eric Norwood
The senior from Acworth, Ga. is to South Carolina's defense what Spiller is to Clemson's offense. Norwood has come up big in the Gamecocks' wins this season and will need to again on Saturday.
The Tigers had trouble blocking another great pass rusher in Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan this season.
Norwood would be greatly helped by a healthy Cliff Matthews on the other side to create their own pass rush tandem. Matthews' status was questionable early in the week.
Just like Spiller, QB Kyle Parker and the Clemson backs will need to know where Mr. Norwood is at all times since he lines out up at end and linebacker throughout the game.
If I mention the words "Chicken Curse" to my South Carolina blogger brethren, they get upset. But it looks like it could be rearing its ugly head again this season.
The Gamecocks always have a tough time in November (probably due to their schedule of Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson rather than any "curse") and it looks like it is continuing this season.
Despite a hostile road crowd, I think Clemson's offensive talent and ball-hawking pass defense is too much for South Carolina.
Clemson Covers -3
You can check out this preview and many rivalry week previews at The ACC & SEC Blog
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