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Clemson Football

Keys to Victory: No. 24 Clemson at South Carolina

November 25, 2023
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Each week, we review the game’s history, three keys to success, and Swanny’s prediction.

The Match-Up:

Clemson (6-4, 3-4 ACC) vs. North Carolina (8-2, 4-2 ACC)

Clemson and South Carolina will meet for the 120th time in history when the Tigers close their 2023 regular season on the road against the Gamecocks on Saturday, Nov. 25. Kickoff at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Clemson will look to reassume annual in-state bragging rights after South Carolina snapped Clemson's series-record-tying seven-game win streak in the rivalry with a one-point win a season ago. Clemson holds a 72-43-4 record in the rivalry and has held the series lead since 1898.

Series History:

  • OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 72-43-4
  • HOME: Clemson leads series, 19-11-1
  • ROAD: Clemson leads series, 53-32-3
  • NEUTRAL: N/A
  • LAST MEETING: Nov. 26, 2022 (31-30, L)
  • STREAK: South Carolina, Won 1

Roster:

We will update Clemson’s roster once it’s released about two hours before kickoff. 

Stat of the Week:

Clemson ranks sixth in the nation in opposing passer rating (101.0) and eighth in the nation in opposing passing yards per game (166.7). In the last three games, Clemson has faced three quarterbacks among the Top 45 nationally in pass efficiency rating — No. 6 Drake Maye, No. 41 Sam Hartman, and No. 45 Haynes King.

Despite facing that group, Clemson leads in the nation in opponent passer rating in the month of November (81.04) after holding Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and North Carolina to a combined 43-of99 passing (43.4 percent) for 492 yards with seven interceptions against only three touchdowns, two of which came against Clemson's backups in a blowout win against Georgia Tech.

Chasing History:

Clemson (149-28) is seeking its 150th win since the start of the 2011 season. Clemson would join Alabama (161) as the only programs to win 150 games since 2011.

Memorable Moments: 

1977: Jerry Butler made a 20-yard touchdown catch of a Steve Fuller pass with 49 seconds left to give Clemson a 31-27 win in Columbia. “The Catch” clinched a Gator Bowl bid for the Tigers, Clemson’s first bowl bid in 18 years.

1980: Willie Underwood recorded a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown that clinched Clemson’s upset of South Carolina and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers in 1980. Underwood was named Sports Illustrated Player of the Week for his performance in that game.

2000: Rod Gardner’s 50-yard reception — “The Catch II” — from Woody Dantzler with 10 seconds left led to Aaron Hunt’s game-winning 25-yard field goal with three seconds left. Former Clemson Co-Offensive Coordinator Jeff Scott served as the holder on the game-winning field goal.

2007: Mark Buchholz kicked a 35-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give Clemson a 23-21 victory in Columbia.

2016: Mike Williams caught three touchdown passes in the first half, including one in which he carried a South Carolina defensive back the final nine yards into the end zone. It led to a 56-7 Clemson victory, the Tigers’ largest victory margin over the Gamecocks since 1900 (51-0). Deshaun Watson finished his three-game Palmetto Bowl career with a three-game total of 61-of-79 passing (77.2 percent) for 895 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception, while also rushing 31 times for 146 yards and five scores in those three contests. Watson accounted for 110 plays of total offense for 941 yards and 14 touchdowns in the three games, helping the team average of 43 points per game.

Key 1: Win the Margin

I think the keys to this game for Clemson are much like they have been over the past few weeks, and it’s no secret-- protect the football. The Tigers don’t need to be perfect, but they’ve got to be better in Williams-Brice Stadium than they have been on the road this season.

Clemson’s three-game winning streak has come against some solid squads in knocking off Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina on consecutive weekends, but those matchups were at home, and in some cases, the Tigers survived their missteps. That won’t likely be the case if they frequently turn the ball over against the Gamecocks this evening.

In road games this season, Clemson is -3 in the turnover margin. Not as bad as it’s felt because not all turnovers are the same and the Tigers have had some of the most devastating ones I’ve ever seen. Avoid those types of plays, and Clemson should be in a good spot.

Key 2: Contain Rattler

Oddly enough, I think you want to see Rattler stuck in the pocket trying to find open wideouts downfield. The Tigers need to minimize his opportunities to extend plays out of the pocket and force him to make great throws. He’s incredibly talented-- the most accurate quarterback Clemson has faced this season, but containing him and getting pressure is better than having him slip out and pick up big runs as well.

If Clemson’s defense gives a little help to Nate Wiggins against Xavier Leggett, I think South Carolina will struggle to find other ways to move the ball. If the Gamecocks feel the need to lean on the running game to open things up, I think Newberry transfer Mario Anderson will find it’s tough sledding against the Tigers.

Key 3: Calm Cade

Last week, just before the half, Cade Klubmik’s instincts took over-- even though he was told to throw the football-- he barely squeaked the football onto the white-painted goalline for a score. It was reminiscent of the waning moments in the Orange Bowl against Tennessee last season. Fortunately, against North Carolina, Klubnik slipped the ball across to give Clemson a 14-7 lead at the half, but it was nearly a costly mistake. Those types of plays must be avoided this evening if the Tigers are going to win. 

To help Klubnik out, I think Clemson will rely on Phil Mafah and Will Shipley to move the football, and that will open things up downfield for the passing game. In the past two matchups with South Carolina, D.J. Uiagalelei passed for exactly 99 yards, and yet Clemson scored 30 points in both contests. It’s hard to imagine Klubnik not passing for more this evening as well if his backs are getting it done on the ground.

Prediction:

I think Lowell said it best in his locks this week, and it’s a message that I noted on the radio show as well: some three-game winning streaks are not built equally, and this is a prime example. The Gamecocks are in this position after knocking off three of the weaker opponents on their schedule-- in fact, South Carolina’s five wins are against Furman, Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Mississippi State, not what I’d call a Murderer’s Row. 

Looking at the Gamecocks’ schedule, I think Clemson has the second most talent they’ve faced and is playing like the third-best team South Carolina has seen this year, and I think that will show up tonight.

Protect the ball, win the game-- it’s that simple.

Clemson 31, South Carolina 17

 

Swanny’s Predictions: 

Date Matchup Swanny’s Prediction Actual Score ✅ or 

9-4-2023 No. 9 Clemson at Duke 38-17 Clemson  28-7 Duke
9-9-2023 No. 25 Clemson vs. Charleston Southern 45-10 Clemson 66-17 Clemson
9-16-2023 Clemson vs. Florida Atlantic 45-10 Clemson 48-14
9-23-2023 Clemson vs. No. 4 Florida State 31-24 FSU 31-24 FSU (OT)
9-30-2023 Clemson at Syracuse 31-20 Clemson 31-14 Clemson
10-7-2023 Clemson vs. Wake Forest 42-17 Clemson 17-12 Clemson
10-21-2023 Clemson at Miami 27-23 Clemson 28-20 Miami (2 OT)
10-28-2023 Clemson at NC State 28-17 Clemson 24-17 NC State
11-4-2023 Clemson vs. Notre Dame 31-20 Notre Dame 31-23 Clemson
11-11-2023 Clemson vs. Georgia Tech 35-17 Clemson 42-21 Clemson
11-18-2023 Clemson vs. North Carolina 31-27 Clemson 31-20 Clemson
11-25-2023 Clemson at South Carolina 31-17 Clemson

✅ = Correct Prediction

Discussion from...

Keys to Victory: No. 24 Clemson at South Carolina

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