Palmetto State Report: Gamecocks Host Paladins, Tiger Battle in The Plains
In a new weekly feature, Jody Alberson is going to bring you a preview of the weekly slate of action for the state of South Carolina's FBS and FCS schools.
The coverage will mainly focus on the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers, but also provide some information on the lesser covered schools. So without further ado...
Furman at South Carolina
The Paladins make their first trip to Columbia since their 28-23 upset win in 1982 over the Gamecocks.
Will Furman feed of the history of that win and the recent victories of FCS schools Jacksonville St. and James Madison over FBS schools Ole Miss and Virginia Tech respectively?
Don't count on it. With the Wesley Saunders saga finally closed in Columbia (officially dismissed from the football program), Carolina can now solely focus on the important stuff...like football.
This team has too many weapons offensively, and too stout a defense for Furman to pose much of a threat.
With that said, you can't overlook the Paladins who are currently ranked 25th in the FCS Coaches poll.
For this Carolina team to truly prove they are legit, they need to win big. Best case scenario would be RB Marcus Lattimore and QB Stephen Garcia riding the pine for the second half because they simply aren't needed.
To Carolina's advantage in preparation for Furman, offensive line coach Shawn Elliot is very familiar with the Paladins having spent the past nine seasons as offensive line coach at Appalachian State who plays in the same conference as Furman, the Southern Conference.
Look for this one to be close maybe through the first quarter as both teams feel each other out, but Carolina should pull away and have a comfortable lead heading into the half.
Again, just too much disparity in the talent, talented depth, and coaching.
Factor in the 80,000 screaming Carolina fans and it's just too much for Furman to overcome.
Prediction: South Carolina 52, Furman 6
Clemson at Auburn
The Tigers will travel out to Auburn, AL to face off against the Tigers. Wait what?
No, I won't keep that up for the rest of the preview, but that's what you get when you have the most common nickname in college football.
Clemson is off to a 2-0 start against the usual cream-puff opponents, but now get their first real test of the season in the Auburn Tigers of the SEC.
Auburn struggled to a 17-14 victory last week over Mississippi State, and if wasn't for the Bulldog QB Chris Relf's inability to complete a pass (or WR Leon Berry's drop) on the final drive, Auburn could be sitting at 1-1 instead of 2-0.
Auburn will again rely on the play of QB Cameron Newton who is the SEC's second leading rusher.
If Cameron can be a little more productive in the passing game, Auburn will see a benefit to the overall effectiveness of their offense.
Again, we don't know a lot about Clemson from the first two games.
But we do have a lot of questions. Is the defense a weak link? Giving up 21 points to first year Division I school Presbyterian, even by the "fourth string" defense is a little alarming.
Will RBs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper be able to carry the load in an offense that relied so much on the big play ability of the departed C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford? We will find out this Saturday.
Luckily, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney does have QB Kyle Parker, who Swinney claims could make any NFL teams 53 man roster (Huh?). Ok, ok...enough of the ribbing.
Clemson has a legitimate shot to gain some respect back for the ACC after the conferences poor showing in out-of-conference competition so far this season.
In the end, I think Auburn is the better team in every aspect of the game (offense, defense, special teams, coaching).
Expect this one to be entertaining until the very end.
Predition: Auburn 27, Clemson 23
Rest of the State's Slate (SC teams highlighted)
Presbyterian at The Citadel
Union College at Wofford
Mars Hill at Charleston Southern
Coastal Carolina at Georgia Southern
South Carolina State at Benedict (Div II)
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