South Carolina vs. Clemson Betting Pick
South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (11-0 SU, 6-5 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 13
Date/Time: Saturday November 24th, 2018. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Tiger Stadium Clemson, S.C.
by Jay Horne, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:SCAR +26/CLEM -26
Over/Under Total: 58
Could the no. 2 ranked Clemson Tigers be the only team in America that could potentially challenge Alabama for the National Championship? It seems that many, including myself, have nearly given Alabama this year’s championship. However, Clemson has been the only team that has not backed down from the Crimson Tide. Clemson and Alabama have squared off 3 times in each of the last 3 years in the College Football Playoffs. Now the Tigers are just two wins away from earning their 4th straight playoffs appearance. Before we shift focus to championship talk, Clemson must first take care of business against their bitter in-state rivals on Saturday when they host the South Carolina Gamecocks at Tiger Stadium.
Clemson seeking 5th straight win in the Palmetto Bowl
In recent years, this rivalry has been dubbed the Palmetto Bowl due to the fact South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State. The rivalry is among the most hated in the country from a fan base perspective, and that bad blood has flooded onto the field on several occasions including the notorious “brawl” in 2004. As heated as this rivalry has been, it has been largely one-sided in recent years. In fact, with a victory on Saturday, the Tigers will earn their 5th straight victory over the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks won 5 in a row before this recent streak under Head Coach Steve Spurrier from 2009-2013 and Clemson will be heavily favored to even the score at 5-5 SU over the last decade.
Clemson poses significant advantages on both sides of the football
The Gamecocks are a decent football team, but they are not great. The defense is decent, and some talent in the secondary but they are pretty weak up front. While Clemson poses the threat of a lethal passing attack with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, I am more convinced the Tigers running attack could do the most damage. Running back Travis Etienne has turned into the ACC’s best rusher with more than 1,150 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns. The Gamecocks have allowed nearly 200 yards per game on the ground which is among the worst run stops in the SEC. I expect Clemson will be able to pick and choose their poison. Lawrence is an extremely talented passer with 21 touchdowns, and 4 picks with a plethora of receiving talents to target. I expect a heavily balanced attack that will keep the Gamecocks defense on their heels. Clemson has averaged 44 points per game this season which ranks 5th in the FBS, and they should flirt with that average again.
Meanwhile the match-up on the opposing side of the ball may be the key to determining who covers the 26 point spread. The Gamecocks offense has come to life in recent weeks behind the resurgence of quarterback Jake Bentley. Bentley has tossed 8 touchdowns with just 1 pick over the last 3 games while averaging 300 yards per game through the air. Bentley’s play will be under the microscope again this week because he has historically played poorly against Clemson. The Tigers have a great defense that leads the nation in scoring allowing just 12.1 points per game. The Clemson defensive front is their main strength. If Clemson gets pressure as I expect, it really comes down to how Jake Bentley handles the pressure. I am just not confident he will hold up because he has been a liability under pressure.
Palmetto Bowl betting trends
Clemson is treading above the .500 mark at 6-4 ATS on the season. The Tigers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games but just 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games at home. As stated before, the Gamecocks have caught a “second wind” in recent weeks covering the spread in 4 of their last 6 games. South Carolina has also been a strong profit producer on the road covering 8 of their last 9 games in enemy territory. South Carolina also holds the head to head advantage going 6-3 ATS in their last 9 meetings with the Tigers.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am a Gamecock fan, but I just don’t see us doing much here on the road against a team that is strong where we are weak. Jake Bentley will need to have a big game, and he has historically played his worst against Clemson. Lay the points, take Clemson -26