CLEMSON TIGERS VS. SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
RECORDS: Clemson (10-1) | South Carolina (8-3)
RANKINGS: Clemson (#3 CFB Playoff, #9 S&P+) | South Carolina (#24 CFB Playoff, #63 S&P+)
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET
WATCH ONLINE: WatchESPN
SPREAD: Clemson opened as 16-point faves. The line ticked down to 13/13.5.
O/U: The total opened at 46.5. It’s at 47 at Bovada, but remains 46.5 everywhere else.
RECORDS ATS: Clemson (6-4-1) | South Carolina (7-3-1)
The Palmetto State has seen a tilt in recent years to the Clemson Tigers. After the South Carolina Gamecocks had a hearty advantage over their in-state rivals for the early part of the decade, Clemson has won the last three contests between the two teams.
The most recent was a 49-point thumping a year ago in Death Valley, in which the eventual National Champions stomped all over the Gamecocks, 56-7. It paled in comparison to the 22-point victory that South Carolina handed Clemson back in 2010, and still ranks as the most lopsided win in the rivalry’s history for either side.
Fast forward a year, and things have improved quite a bit in Columbia. South Carolina is 8-3 as they head into the final week of the regular season. The chances of earning nine wins this year are pretty high, given that they’ll be bowling once again. The offense isn’t where you want it to be, but you can attribute that to Deebo Samuel’s absence.
The defense, though, has made steady gains. After allowing 26.5 points per game last year, the Gamecocks have only let up 19.6 this season. After ranking 50th in the country in S&P+ on defense, Will Muschamp’s group now ranks at a more respectable 37th. They have taken a bit of a step back in the sacks department, as Darius English’s absence has left a hole. But, D.J. Wonnum, a sophomore defensive lineman who may be one to watch, has been quite good, getting to the QB six times so far.
The run defense is really where they’ve improved the most. After ranking 68th, 89th and 65th in Rushing S&P+, Success Rate and IsoPPP, they now rank 29th, 36th and 38th. Much of that is thanks to Wonnum, who has 13 TFL and 11 run stuffs. Skai Moore, the tam’s star senior linebacker, has a team-high 12 and two TFL.
Moore, Wonnum and the Gamecock run defense will definitely need to bring everything they’ve got with them when they face Clemson on Saturday night. They’ll be facing one of the top rushing units in the country. They aren’t necessarily led by one man, either. Kelly Bryant leads the team in rushing yards (754), but freshman tailback Travis Etienne leads in TDs with 11. Etienne also is averaging a fierce 7.7 YPC. Sophomore back Tavien Feaster isn’t too far behind, hitting at 6.7 yards per carry and 619 yards with five rushing TDs.
Bryant has been good enough throwing the ball, and may do well against the Gamecocks’ solid-but-not-spectacular pass defense. But the game will likely be decided on the ground. Both ways, really, as Clemson’s run defense is fierce in its own right. They have three players with at least 9.5 TFL. Dorian O'Daniel, Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell make up one of the best D-Lines in the entire country, not just the ACC. Ferrell and Bryant have 14 and 14.5 TFL themselves, so you can tell what kind of havoc they’ve wreaked so far. A.J. Turner and Ty'Son Williams will certainly need to watch out.
Oddsmakers aren’t giving the Gamecocks any favors, even though the game is in Columbia. The crowd there will certainly be hoping that the Gamecocks can have a hand in spoiling their rival’s fun this season. Whether or not they actually do so? Well, time will tell.