South Carolina Gamecocks (6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. No. 4 Clemson Tigers (10-1 SU, 5-6 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Saturday November 26th, 2016. 7:30PM (EST)
Where: Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SC +23.5/CLEM -23.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
One of the most heated rivalries in all of college football will take place this Saturday when the South Carolina Gamecocks faceoff with the no. 4 Clemson Tigers. Officially dubbed as the Palmetto Bowl, this rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson is among the oldest and most hated in the South. This Saturday’s contest will mark the 114th meeting between both teams and is the 2nd longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football. For this Saturday’s contest, Clemson is currently trying to keep their chances of a College Football Playoff appearance alive as they will be more than 3 touchdown favorites at home in Death Valley.
After suffering a devastating home loss at Pittsburgh just two weeks ago, the Tigers bounced back with a 35-13 victory over Wake Forest last week. Running back Wayne Gallman rushed 22 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns to help the Tigers resurrect their running game which had been missing in previous contests. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was not needed as often but still managed to hit 23 of 33 passing for 202 yards and 1 touchdown. It was a pretty noticeable change in the game philosophy with Clemson last week. In previous games, they would simply put the ball in Deshaun Watson’s hands and dare teams to keep pace with their scoring ability.
In most instances, Clemson was able to prevail with superior talent mainly from the offensive side of the football where Watson would take aim at talented receivers like Mike Williams and Deon Cain amongst others. However, Clemson’s long term success is not going to be able to rely on a passing offense along and I think the loss to Pittsburgh proved that feat. Clemson is a much more dangerous team when they can run the football and allow their pretty good defense a chance to get some rest. If Clemson sticks to that game plan, I think it increases their chances to take care of business against South Carolina in this rivalry setting on Saturday.
The Gamecocks have provided a vastly improved defense under first year Head Coach Muschamp this season. South Carolina’s defense has specifically been very strong against the pass where they rank 17th in the FBS allowing just 189 yards per game. I know Clemson has some very talented receivers but the South Carolina corners can compete in their matchups. Therefore, I think this matchup comes down to Clemson’s ability to run the football and/or South Carolina’s ability to get pressure on Watson in passing situations. The Gamecocks have not been near as strong against the run giving Wayne Gallman another possibility for a big outing if Clemson’s coaching staff keeps the emphasis on the run.
For South Carolina, they have simply had a lot of issues scoring this season especially on the road. The Gamecocks point totals on the road this season are: 13, 14, 10, and 7 for a whopping 11 point average. To give respect to South Carolina, those first 3 contest were in the midst of a quarterback carousel that lasted much of the first half of the season. When Muschamp finally decided to rip the red shirt off of Jake Bently, the offense found a spark that has included 4 wins in the last 5 games along with a much more consistent down the field threat.
The Gamecocks were stymied by Florida two weeks ago in a 20-7 loss in Gainesville for another poor road outing. However, South Carolina is still playing with a lot more confidence than they were earlier in the year. This offense is loaded with young players with Bentley, running back Rico Dowdle, and receiver Bryan Edwards who are all freshman. In fact, South Carolina is the only team in the FBS with a freshman as the leading passer and leading rusher. They have tons of potential but they need those guys to start matching their play on the road as they have shown at home.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Only once has this rivalry been decided by more than 3 touchdowns in the last 15 meetings. Just look back to last year’s game when Clemson was arguably better and South Carolina was awful with an interim coach in the wake of Steve Spurrier’s departure; the Gamecocks still took Clemson down to the wire in a 37-32 loss. I don’t think this one will be quite as close as last year’s game but South Carolina will be competitive. Take South Carolina +23.5
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