No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. No. 11 Clemson Tigers (10-1 SU, 8-3 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Saturday November 24th, 2012. 7:00PM Eastern
Where: Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SC +4/Clem -4
Over/Under Total: 61.5
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One of the oldest and most hated rivalries in the South kick off this Saturday night when the no. 11 Clemson Tigers host the no. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks in the ‘Battle of the Palmetto State’. The Gamecocks and Tigers have met every year since 1909 making it the 2nd oldest uninterrupted rivalry in college football. Not only is this one of the oldest rivalries in college football but it is definitely one of the most fierce rivalries as well. This is a game that has turned ugly several times as it did in the “brawl” of 2004 and has remained just as ugly for the fan bases in recent years. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney have already traded verbal jabs at each other several times this season. This Saturday night the gloves come off for both teams as these two enemies rekindle one of the greatest rivalries in the South.
The Gamecocks have captured the upper hand in recent years winning the last 3 meetings over the Tigers. However, the Gamecocks will be slight 4 point underdogs when they attempt to make it 4 in a row over their arch rivals for the first time in more than half a century. The big question entering this Saturday’s game is can the Gamecock defense slow down Clemson’s electric offense that is averaging 535 yards (6th in FBS) and 44.6 (4th in FBS) points per game? The Tigers have playmakers at the skill positions and the talent to post big numbers on the scoreboard just as they did in last week’s 62-48 win over NC State. QB Tahj Boyd has been outstanding hitting 68% passing for 3,367 yards for 33 touchdowns and 11 picks on the year.
For those that have not had the chance to watch the Tigers this season, offensive coordinator Chad Morris runs the ‘Oregon’ type up tempo offense that spreads the ball around. Clemson has tremendous talents in WR Sammy Watkins and Andre Ellington that can make big plays with the football. The Tigers speed at the skill positions on offense is the biggest threat to opposing defenses. Guys like Ellington and Watkins can go the distance with every touch and the Tigers do a great job of getting their key players the football. So far this season, nobody has been able to stop Clemson’s offense and they will get the chance to show their talents again this Saturday night in front of a nationally televised audience.
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However, the Tigers do have some weaknesses on defense that has prevented them from being a true national power. The Clemson defense looked fairly awful against NC State last week giving up big plays in the secondary. Overall the Tigers have given up 408 yards (68th in FBS) per game on the year and must do a better job of preventing big plays. South Carolina has not displayed the most explosive offense in recent weeks but they are a physical team that is plenty capable to make the Tigers defense pay for their mistakes.
I believe the key for South Carolina this Saturday night will be to have to success running the football. The Gamecocks have controlled the clock and dominated on the ground in each of their last 3 wins over the Tigers. That type of formula is exactly what South Carolina needs to keep the Clemson offense off the field again this Saturday. For that to happen, QB Connor Shaw and running back Kenny Miles have to play well. Miles took over for injured Marcus Lattimore two weeks ago and posted a solid 127 yard effort in the 24-7 win against Wofford last week. Shaw has also proved that he can run the football well this season and his legs will be a key asset this week.
Still the Gamecocks will need Shaw to hit some passes down field against that weak Clemson secondary to put some points on the board. Shaw has not been impressive in recent weeks despite completing 67% passing on the year. The Gamecocks do not have any big superstars in the receiving game but they have some speed with wide outs Bruce Ellington and Ace Sanders. Additionally, South Carolina has excellent tight ends that can stretch the field as long as Shaw is able to deliver in the passing game. The Gamecocks will need a great effort from the entire offense to pull off the win this Saturday night.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am going to stay away from the side as I believe there are too many variables. South Carolina’s defensive line has the talent to disrupt the Clemson passing attack but I’m not sure to what extent. I believe the best play here will be on the ‘over’ as both teams should put up plenty of points. South Carolina will expose Clemson’s biggest weakness in their defense but the Tigers offense should also score plenty as well. Take a play on the over 61.5!
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