College Football Predictions Week 13: Clemson No Match for SEC's South Carolina

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIINovember 26, 2011

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 12:  Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball against the Florida Gators during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Although it's not the main story, today's showdown between No. 12 South Carolina and No. 17 Clemson could very well have National Championship implications.

Obviously, neither South Carolina or Clemson will be appearing in the big game, but teams from the SEC and the ACC are still in the hunt.

With the way the BCS ranking system works, the play of a conference as a whole could have a major role in determining which team ends up No. 2 in the nation.

Right now, the top candidates for the spot are SEC's Alabama, ACC's Virginia Tech and Big 12's Oklahoma State. Assuming all three teams win their final games of the season, the spot will likely come down to difficulty of schedule and conference play.

The SEC has been considered the top tier conference in college football for the last couple of years. That already gives Alabama the edge in the race.

Already today, Georgia has taken out Georgia Tech, putting a notch on the belt for the SEC.

South Carolina could finalize that superiority with a win over Clemson when they play later tonight.

The Gamecocks have been one of the lesser-tested teams in the SEC this season. They lost to Arkansas and Auburn, but the two were clearly the most difficult opponents on their schedule.

Clemson has had a similar course in the ACC. They lost to Georgia Tech early in the season and are coming off a loss to an extremely inconsistent N.C. State team. However, they have managed wins over Auburn and Virginia Tech.

The difference in this game will be momentum. South Carolina is a team that has been improving each and every week, while Clemson has faded as the season progressed.

The key matchup will come down to the Tiger offense against the speedy SEC defense of South Carolina that ranks 15th in the country in points allowed.

As long as sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw can manage the game, South Carolina should be able to gain control on both sides of the ball.

Both teams will be battling for a berth in a big bowl game.

However, it's the added implications that should be garnering most of the attention.