One of the more underrated interstate rivals in college football will be re-ignited this weekend when the Clemson Tigers travel to Columbia to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Tigers blew their chance to play for a national championship last week by losing at NC State, yet they are still going to play for the ACC Championship next weekend with a chance to go to the Orange Bowl.
The Gamecocks missed out on their chance to play for the SEC Championship with a loss three weeks ago to Arkansas. They still have a chance to get to 10 wins before their bowl game, which would be a major coup for this team considering they lost their starting quarterback and running back.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.
When: Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7:45 p.m. EDT
Watch: ESPN; ESPN3.com
Listen: Talk Sports 104.9 FM (Clemson); WNKT-FM 107.5 (South Carolina)
Betting Line: South Carolina (-4.5)
Clemson Injury Report
Probable: WR Sammy Watkins (Shoulder)
Questionable: OL Brandon Thomas (Leg), T Philip Price (Knee)
Out: LB Tony Seward (Knee)
South Carolina Injury Report
Questionable: LB Quin Smith (Back), S Corey Addison (Concussion), RB Jacob Baker (Knee)
Out: RB Marcus Lattimore (Knee), FB Matt Coffee (Knee), T Kyle Nunn (Back), CB Akeem Auguste (Foot)
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
This game lost some of its luster when Clemson lost last week, but both teams are still ranked in the top 20 and are looking to get to double-digit wins.
Since this isn’t a conference game for either team, it won’t affect their standing in the ACC and SEC, respectively.
Clemson is in danger of falling out of the rankings with a loss, which would be a big blow to morale after being in the top 10 for most of the season.
What They Are Saying
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier spoke to the media on Tuesday at his weekly press conference and talked about how important this game is for the state of South Carolina.
It helps both schools. It helps our state. If we were both 11-0, that would be better, but we're both 9-2. They lost a couple of conference games and we lost a couple of conference games. It worked out they're the division winner. Ours didn't work out. It's neat for our state. We have two teams in the top 25 about the whole year and occasionally in the top 15. They've been in the top 10 until this last week. They've had a super year. Obviously they didn't have a good game last week, but they're a talented team and capable of scoring a bunch of points against everyone they play. We have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides if we'll have a chance to beat them here on Saturday night.
Clemson Player To Watch: QB Tajh Boyd
Clemson needs Boyd to play well in order to have success. In the two games that the Tigers have lost this season, he has thrown for 533 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. In the other nine games, he has 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
Boyd, much like the Tigers offense, is very streaky. He has patches where he looks like one of the best players in the country, but there are other times when he looks lost on the field.
South Carolina’s defense is very good, so Boyd will not have the time to figure things out before the Tigers get down by two touchdowns. He has to look sharp early and keep the momentum going throughout the game.
South Carolina Player To Watch: RB Brandon Wilds
Being a freshman running back replacing a Heisman Trophy candidate can’t be an easy task, but Wilds has held his own in the four games since taking over as the primary back.
Granted, Wilds has not been facing the best competition. His best games have come against Tennessee and Citadel, two teams not known for their strong defensive presence.
South Carolina’s offense is built around a solid running game, so Wilds’ role in this game can’t be understated. He has to take pressure off Connor Shaw and help open up the passing game.
Key Matchup: South Carolina QB Connor Shaw vs. Clemson Defense
A big part of South Carolina’s struggles on offense this season have come from an unstable quarterback situation. Shaw took over for the not-so-dearly departed Stephen Garcia and is still trying to figure out how to play the position in the SEC.
Clemson’s defense has been spotty this season. The Tigers have allowed at least 28 points in the last five games, which means that the offense is forced to play from behind a lot and throw the ball more than they want to.
If Shaw can figure out how to break through the Tigers defense, which a lot of teams have done recently, they can do what NC State did last week and easily win this game.
Clemson’s inconsistencies on defense will be too much to overcome.
Gamecocks 28, Tigers 21