With all due respect to Adam Garrett, who provides five keys to victory for South Carolina against Clemson, I have to finish my regular season's five-keys series anyway. His is an excellent piece that is different than mine, so you should check it out, too.
That being said, it's time for my final five-keys article for the regular season, which I have completed for three straight football seasons!
South Carolina has an opportunity to do things that no recent Gamecocks team has ever done. An 11-win season (if they win the Clemson game and a bowl), three straight state championships, bragging rights and that first-ever season where the Gamecocks battle through injuries and issues for wins.
This game is a battle between two very different teams. An explosive, fast-moving Clemson offense is starkly different than the time-consuming, ball-control offense that South Carolina runs.
Defensively, it's like the difference between a 6'6", 275-pound defensive end and a 5'8", 150-pound kicker. South Carolina's defense is that much better than Clemson's.
But throw all of that out the window. This heated rivalry game will be a classic.
|South Carolina Advantage||Even||Clemson Advantage|
|Defensive Line||X |
|Defensive Backs||X ||
South Carolina: 79th
South Carolina: 5th
Don't let South Carolina's offensive ranking fool you. They are 29th in the country in rushing, and that's what they will do and do well.
Also, don't let Clemson's 55th-ranked defense fool you. They are great against the pass. However, they are 83rd against the run. The run offense (29th) versus run defense (83rd) is the matchup that matters.
How does South Carolina win this game? Read on.
Words of wisdom.
The front four of South Carolina has all the tools to decimate an injury-riddled Clemson offensive line. Even if the injured Tigers can go, it will be difficult for them to keep up with the phenomenal athletes that South Carolina will throw at them.
If you hit Tajh Boyd in the mouth a few times, he becomes Stephen Garcia, circa 2011. He's about as tough as a wet paper towel.
However, if you give him time, he has the quarterback skills to destroy even the best defensive backs.
This kid is special. He will be an explosive pro. He's got great hands and speed to burn. However, even more special than that is his ability to read defenses and find holes in coverage.
He also makes a living in the middle of the field.
Stephon Gilmore wants to go one on one with him. While I respect Stephon a great deal, the answer to that would be no.
He can't. No one can. It will take a team effort to contain him.
Sammy Watkins and company are also insanely gifted on special teams. I don't want to say this, but the Clemson special teams have a great shot of scoring once on special teams.
In all honestly, if the Gamecocks special teams can just keep them contained, it will be a successful game. Field position should be huge. If the Gamecocks can keep them to long fields, it will be that much more difficult for the Tigers to get their offense going.
We have seen it numerous times this year: Connor Shaw as a runner. He is fast and agile and reads the field (mostly) well on option plays.
He could burn the Tigers this week. None of Clemson's defenders have the lateral speed to keep up with him and contain Brandon Wilds up the middle.
The Gamecocks could rush for 300 yards in this game, and Connor could account for close to 100.
Alshon Jeffery could make a living on jump balls against Clemson's undersized corners. I know that this won't be the top focus of the offense, but if they take a couple of shots to Jeffery deep, chances are they will connect.
Even though Clemson's pass defense has proven to be pretty solid, they have not had to contain a receiver with Alshon's skills this season. If Connor plays well and throws well, Jeffery could have a huge game to end his regular-season career.
Yes, I did take a week off for the Citadel game. It happens.
However, LHD and I did a good job predicting the Florida versus SC game.
I predicted a score of 17-14 in favor of the Gamecocks, so I pretty much nailed it. I only added 2 to my score.
LHD predicted a bit of a higher-scoring affair. He had South Carolina winning 27-23, which set him back 21 points.
Our guest, Drew Laing, predicted Florida to win 21-17, so he gets a loss for the guest experts and a +9 to the guest pickers.
So as it stands:
1. Alex Roberts (8-2) +225
2. Leftover Hot Dog (8-2) +260
3. Guest Experts (7-3) +299
I have not been able to get a Clemson FC to respond yet. I will update the guest-picker score later.
My Score Prediction: South Carolina 28, Clemson 21.
Leftover Hot Dog's Prediction: South Carolina 27, Clemson 17
Guest Expert's Prediction: N/A
As always, it is great to be a Gamecock, and you can always fan me on Facebook!