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This rivalry in the fine state of South Carolina goes under the radar but that does not mean there a lack of hatred. After the South Carolina Gamecocks won all five matchups between 2009-14, the Clemson Tigers have owned the series sense. Last year, the Tigers won 34-10 and the last time the game was in Death Valley, Clemson dominated 56-7. Clemson leads the all-time series 69-42-4. Going on the road against the No. 2 team in the country and getting a win will be a tall task for the Gamecocks, but it can be done.
What makes Clemson so good is their defensive line. Loaded with future NFL players, it will be important like it is in any game for South Carolina to keep Jake Bentley upright and give him time to find his talented receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards . A way to do that is force feed Rico Dowdle, who is averaging five yards per carry this season.
Clemson’s secondary doesn’t get the same attention as the defensive line, but it has a lot of talent, although they do not get a lot of interceptions. Last year, Bentley struggled quite a bit, only throwing for 126 yards and had two passes picked off. For South Carolina to pull this off, Bentley is going to have to a good game, and a good game would silence a lot of doubters that have popped up questioning Bentley’s ability to lead this time.
On defense, South Carolina will have to step up. Against decent offenses they have struggled. The Georgia Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Florida Gators and Ole Miss Rebels scored 41, 35, 35 and 44 points against them, respectively. Clemson is led by freshmen QB Trevor Lawrence, who replaced Kelly Bryant in the beginning of the season. Lawrence has thrown 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season.
The running game is no slouch either, led by sophomore Travis Etienne, who is averaging 8.5 yards a carry with 1,158 total rushing yards. Lawrence likes to spread the ball around as four different Clemson receivers have 29+ catches and 390+ yards. South Carolina has to get pressure behind T.J. Brunson and Javon Kinlaw. The Gamecocks rank 92nd in the country in rush defense and 56th in pass defense, which isn’t a good sign for a team trying to pull an upset against a top offense. Will Muschamp better come up with a heck of a game plan to pull this upset in Death Valley.
To be frank this is kind of mismatch. South Carolina is by no means an awful team, but Clemson is a great team and at home they are just that much tougher. Weird things happen in rivalry games though, and if South Carolina can come out and put some points on the board early and get some stops, they can make a game of it. I don’t see that happening unfortunately Gamecock fans as Clemson takes this one:
Prediction: Clemson 48 South Carolina 17