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Clemson Football

The Last Look: South Carolina

November 25, 2017
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The day has finally arrived. Let’s get right into it as No. 3 Clemson takes its playoff hopes to Columbia to face a confident No. 24 South Carolina team.

Here are a few final things to look for:

Turnovers --

The biggest threat to Clemson’s run in this rivalry is turning the ball over and the momentum that comes with it.

South Carolina leads the SEC in turnovers forced with 21, 11 fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions. Any statistic where you’re outperforming Alabama (19) is something to raise your eyebrows at.

Clemson has done a better job this season of not turning the ball over. In part because with Deshaun Watson gone, you aren’t taking as many chances in the passing game as you did in 2016.

The Tigers are 21st in the country with only 11 turnovers lost, while last year Clemson turned it over 27 times in 15 games. This is a remarkable turnaround and you can really tell that the emphasis has been taking care of the ball.

It’s simple: If South Carolina turns Clemson over a few times, it could be a dogfight for the Tigers in the hostile environment.

On the other hand, Clemson has scored a non-offensive touchdown this season in every road game played so something has to give.

If the Tigers take care of the ball and don’t make many mental errors like they have done the past two trips to Columbia, then they should take care of business.

Clemson’s rushing offense vs. South Carolina’s defense –

The Gamecock’s defense will be primed to slow down Kelly Bryant and Clemson’s rushing attack.

South Carolina’s defense will load the box and force Bryant to win with his arm and not his legs. We have already seen a healthy Bryant manage the game steadily when opponents like Virginia Tech tried the very same strategy.

It’ll certainly help to have Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster in the backfield with him to help carry the load.

Clemson ranks 24th in the country in rushing offense with 217.5 yards per game. The Gamecocks give up 143.3 yards per game on the ground and has had trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks in recent memory.

Most notably against Mississippi State in 2016 when Nick Fitzgerald racked up 195 yards on 17 carries.

In a hostile road environment, churning the run game will be a defining factor for Clemson to leave with a win.

Emotions flying high –

It is going to be as hostile of an environment that Clemson has played in the past two seasons.

The Gamecocks are coming off the embarrassing loss last season in Death Valley and believe that they have Clemson in a perfect position to knock them out of playoff contention.

No doubt South Carolina has gotten a lot better in just one year since the debacle and has exceeded preseason expectations. Nothing would put a stamp on Muschamp’s tenure so far with South Carolina than a victory that will shake the playoff picture.

It’s the same old story for Clemson as it heads into another road night game. The players certainly don’t think of this as anything more than just another game, but Williams-Brice Stadium will be as nasty as ever to whoever is wearing orange.

Not only has South Carolina had to catch up and compete with the powers in their conference, they also had to catch up with the school about two hours up the road that has been in the national championship conversation the last three years now.

The key for Clemson to beat the animosity towards it is to get off to a fast start. The Tigers can’t afford to get off to the start they did at North Carolina State. A pick and a touchdown given up in the first six plays can’t happen this evening in this environment.

It’s a rivalry game. “Records are thrown out in this one,” said co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott on Monday. The teams are going to play to each other’s level and it sure is going to be fun.

A close game is going to play out, but Clemson’s experience in these types of games will push them over the top in the end.

Prediction: 28-24 Clemson

 
 
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