Clemson Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

No. 6 Clemson Tigers (10-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2 SU, 5-6 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date and Time: Saturday November 30th, 2013. 2:30PM Eastern
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C.
by Jay, Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: Clem +5/USC -5
Over/Under Total: 58.5

While most of the nation will be focused on the Iron Bowl this Saturday,
there will be another huge showdown taking place in the Palmetto State that
will highlight one of the most fierce rivalries in college football. This
Saturday’s two of nation’s best will rekindle the flame on the South’s longest
uninterrupted rivalry when the no. 6 Clemson Tigers go
into the hostile confines of Williams-Brice Stadium to battle the no. 10
South Carolina Gamecocks with BCS Bowl bids on the line.

This rivalry has been marked with hate over the years with the ‘Brawl’ of 2004 and most recently flourished with verbal wars between Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. To put it mildly, neither team likes each other. Throw in some higher stakes with BCS Bowl bids within grasp for the winner and the stage is set for one of the most anticipated ‘Palmetto Bowls’ of all-time.

This Saturday marks the 105th consecutive meeting between Clemson and South Carolina. While the Tigers hold the all-time series lead at 65-41-4, the Gamecocks have had the upper hand most recently by winning the last 4 meetings. The Gamecocks will enter this week’s match-up as 5 point favorites to make it 5 in a row. However Clemson may be the sexy pick in this game especially for the betting public. Outside of a stumble to a Florida State team that appears bound to play for the National Championship, Clemson has been flawless winning their last 9 games by double digits. The Tigers offense with quarterback Tahj Boyd has been superb averaging 338 yards per game (8th in FBS) through the air and cashing in 42.3 points per game (10th in FBS).

The Tigers run a fast pace spread offense at the direction of coordinator Chad Morris and have outstanding playmakers that can strike quickly. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins has caught 78 passes for 1,144 yards and 10 scores this season as the number 1 target in the passing game. Watkins is blessed with tremendous speed and agility making him one of the most difficult receivers to defend at the collegiate level. If Clemson’s offensive line holds up, the Tigers have the weapons to thwart South Carolina’s defensive secondary.

The problem is that in recent meetings the Gamecocks have dominated upfront. In last year’s meeting, star defensive end and future NFL lottery pick JaDeveon Clowney had 5 sacks on Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd in a 27-17 victory over the Tigers. Clowney even stated at the SEC media days earlier this year that he believed Boyd was “scared” of the South Carolina defensive front. Obviously a lot of that will be chalk board material this Saturday, but the fact remains that this game will be ultimately decided by South Carolina’s ability to put pressure on Boyd.

On the other side of the ball, Clemson’s defense has improved significantly compared to recent years. The Tigers have held opponents to just 20.2 points per game which is the 18th best scoring defense in the FBS. However Spurrier’s Gamecocks have overcome the defensive statistics in all of the last 4 meetings against Clemson by averaging 31 points in each of those contests. Some could easily argue that the Gamecocks offense may be even better this year than in those previous meetings.

Quarterback Connor Shaw has been terrific with 20 touchdown passes and just 1 pick. Running back Mike Davis is a homerun threat out of the backfield with 1,112 yards and 10 touchdowns already accredited to his 2013 resume. Therefore I tend to believe South Carolina will be able to get their share of points similar to years past. Obviously Clemson has an offense that can post a big number and still get the win. However, the Tigers have not proved they can overcome South Carolina’s defense in recent years. The Ole Ball Coach has reigned supreme in this rivalry and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I believe Clemson’s offense is primarily smoke and mirrors. Sure the Tigers have great offensive statistics but you have to factor in the competition. In the Tigers only game against a top 25 defense, they were held to 7 points until the Seminoles put in their backups to give up another late score. While South Carolina’s defense may not be as well rounded as Florida State, they are not far off either. The Gamecocks rank 11th in total defense, 20th in scoring defense, and has one of the best pass rushes in the country. All of which is needed to slow down Clemson’s offense. If that does not convince you to lay off Clemson, remember this game will be played at Williams-Brice Stadium which has become one of the best home field environments in college football since Spurrier’s arrival in Columbia. The Gamecocks have a 17 game home winning streak and senior quarterback Connor Shaw is a perfect 16-0 throughout his career at home. Need I say more? Take South Carolina -5

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