Week 14 - Clemson at South Carolina

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Clemson at South Carolina

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (9-2) Nov. 30, 7:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: QB Tajh Boyd has had an amazing run at Clemson. His legacy, however, will be tarnished if he goes 0-fer-the Gamecocks during his otherwise brilliant career.

The Tigers have lost four straight in the cantankerous Palmetto State Showdown, a reality that gnaws at the players, fans and staff of the program. Boyd has been the starter in the last three meetings, going a miserable 32-of-71 for 339 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He needs this game, as does head coach Dabo Swinney. This battle at Williams-Brice Stadium might also become an at-large BCS bowl qualifier, with both schools hoping to earn January marquee invitations.

The Gamecocks will be focused on Clemson. Still, an occasional glance at the scoreboard can't be ruled out. South Carolina will win the SEC East if Mizzou loses to Texas A&M a little later in the evening. The ‘Cocks have rallied from an inexcusable loss to Tennessee on Oct. 19, winning four straight games. With a victory on Saturday night, South Carolina will become the first school in the 111-game history of the rivalry to win five in a row in the series.

Why Clemson Might Win: Weapons. Lots of weapons.

The Tigers' calling card continues to be its offense, with Boyd and WR Sammy Watkins stretch opposing defenses so that RB Roderick McDowell has more room to operate. Sure, Boyd has struggled in the series, but he's also slayed a couple of SEC dragons since the last meeting with the Gamecocks, beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Georgia in the opener. If Clemson can get out of neutral, South Carolina won't have the offensive firepower to keep pace in a high-scoring game.

Why South Carolina Might Win: The Gamecocks are in the heads of the Tigers.

South Carolina has Clemson's number, and Clemson knows it. The Gamecocks have been able to consistently derail coordinator Chad Morris' system by collapsing the pocket and limiting big plays. This year's USC defense is typically stingy, allowing just 20 points per game. The Tigers must contend with not only DE Jadeveon Clowney up front, but also DT Kelcy Quarles and DE Chaz Sutton. Oh, and the pass defense has improved around big corners Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree, allowing just three touchdown passes over the last six games.

Who To Watch Out For: Watkins and Martavis Bryant against Hampton and Legree will be a dogfight that rages on for all four quarters. The Clemson receivers are dynamite, but the South Carolina corners play with all of the attitude and physicality of safeties.

- Clemson has been sketchy in pass protection this season, yielding 27 sacks. It's a big concern heading into a game against a South Carolina team that boasts size, speed and want-to up front.

- Gamecock QB Connor Shaw lives for these types of moments, huge games with myriad implications. Has anyone really taken notice of the fact that the senior has accounted for 24 touchdowns, while being intercepted just one time?

- RB Mike Davis has been clutch all season long for South Carolina. The Gamecocks will look to ride their big back again on Saturday. Clemson is average at the second level, which means Davis could be taking on smaller defensive backs at times this weekend.

What Will Happen: Spurrier and South Carolina own the secret sauce on how to beat Clemson. It'll unveil that formula once again in front of an electrified crowd in Columbia.

The Tigers have come a long way under Swinney, but they still have a Gamecock problem. Clowney will play with something to prove, and that backfield combination of Shaw and Davis will flourish once more for South Carolina. Boyd will fall short once again in his quest to win this game, the lone asterisk on an otherwise brilliant career at Clemson.

Prediction: South Carolina 34 … Clemson 24
Line: South Carolina -5 o/u: 57.5
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 4.5
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