November 29, 2013
The hatred between Clemson fans and South Carolina has grown exponentially over the last year with success and expectations higher than ever, and it all comes down to Saturday night. Can Clemson clinch a BCS bowl berth? Can South Carolina continue the nation’s longest home winning streak?
This week we will do our prediction a little differently with Gamecock Girl bloggess Lauren Rippy stating her case for South Carolina and Clemson Girl bloggess Nikki Steele predicting for the Tigers.
WHAT: NO. 6 CLEMSON AT NO. 10 SOUTH CAROLINA
WHEN: 7 P.M. ON ESPN2
WHERE: WILLIAMS-BRICE STADIUM, COLUMBIA, S.C.
LAUREN- QUARLES’ BREAKOUT SEASON MAY BE HIS LAST FOR THE GAMECOCKS: For anyone that has watched any sports programming that discusses college football I feel fairly confident in saying that you have heard some negative press about Jadeveon Clowney. Unfortunately for Jadeveon, it was impossible from the outset to live up to the expectations set for him after “The Hit” in last year’s bowl game. While Clowney has played through injury all year, he has not disappointed, but his presence has forced offenses to run into another issue on the defensive line, better known as Kelcy Quarles. Quarles has demolished opposing offenses, under the radar, all season and is forcing offensive coordinators to pick their poison, Clowney or Quarles. The response has been to move to the short passing game to try and eliminate their effectiveness but as you can see on any stat sheet, it hasn’t made much difference. Quarles leads the team in tackles for loss with 11 for a total of 86 yards. His next closest competitor, Clowney with 8.5. Kelcy also leads the team in sacks with 7, which is 5 more than the next highest total for the Gamecocks. While it seems pretty clear that next season we’ll be watching both of these stars on Sundays, here’s to hoping one of them decides to finish out their eligibility!
While the secondary for the Gamecocks has been the weak link at many points throughout the season it has found some consistency late in the year. This will be the paramount task on Saturday night against the ever present deep threat that Boyd and the Tigers offense present week in and week out. If Victor Hampton can keep his secondary unit disciplined throughout the game and eliminate the explosive, momentum changing plays they will put the Gamecocks in prime position for the fifth straight win.
NIKKI- ISAIAH BATTLE IS THE DIFFERENCE: It’s no secret that the Clemson offensive line has struggled mightily at times this season, but sophomore right tackle Isaiah Battle just might be the missing link that brings Clemson’s offensive line together. Senior left tackle Brandon Thomas has been the most consistent player on offense this season and has really led what is a young group of linemen through the ups and downs of the season. However, it wasn’t until two weeks ago when Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris started Battle at right tackle that the offense really began to click. Everyone knows the challenge that Thomas faces with Clowney, but the Gamecock’s other defensive end Chaz Sutton is a challenge in his own right, and having Battle manning the right side of the line will give quarterback Tajh Boyd some peace of mind knowing that he will have time to find his receivers. The Clemson running game also struggled at times this season, but has been better over the last two weeks since Roderick McDowell and company have had the big, physical and athletic Battle to run behind.
LAUREN- CONNOR SHAW’S LAST CHANCE: In Connor Shaw’s time at Carolina he has gone 25-5 as a starter. 25-5. That is better than any other quarterback in the history of the Gamecock football program. While he may not have the other statistics that typically signify one of the greatest quarterbacks in a program’s history he does have the intangibles that cannot be measured on paper. His sheer will to win is the reason that the Gamecocks sit at 9-2 on the season. His heroics during the Missouri game will not be something that any Gamecock soon forgets. He’s become Mr. Consistent and while that may not be glamorous it is exactly what Carolina has needed after the up and down career of Stephen Garcia.
Standing by his side, Connor will have one of the best running backs in the nation who is at 100% after resting during the blowout last week against Coastal Carolina. Mike Davis has definitely allowed Gamecock fans to move on after the injury-plagued career of our beloved Marcus Lattimore ended way too soon. Davis’ ability to run through and explode off of tackles has made him the most exciting part of the Gamecocks offense. Yes, a running back is the most exciting part of a Steve Spurrier led offense. This is not to say the passing game disappoints but Davis is just plain and simple that good. Thankfully he’ll be back in Garnet and Black for at least one more year to wow anyone that watches.
NIKKI – MARTAVIS BRYANT…THE X-FACTOR: Sammy Watkins is without a doubt the best wide receiver on Clemson’s team, in the ACC, and in the country. Teams have schemed to take the talented junior out of games all season, but so far they have all been unsuccessful. South Carolina will probably put its best corner, Victor Hampton on Watkins, leaving senior Jimmy Legree or one the Gamecocks safeties to cover the speedy Martavis Bryant. The junior from Anderson has had tumultuous career, but is playing with more confidence now than at any point in his three-year tenure. Two weeks ago against Georgia Tech, Bryant caught five passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. Bryant has made his name out-running opponents and making catches in traffic that most wide receivers only dream of catching. With the South Carolina defense trying to double-team Watkins, it will be up to Bryant to make a play and keep the Gamecocks honest.
LAUREN- TWO SPECIAL FRESHMEN: Much to the surprise of many in Gamecock nation the special team’s duties have primarily been handled by two outstanding freshman this season, placekicker Elliott Fry and returnman Pharoh Cooper. While neither of them excites the crowd as some of their predecessors, that are now playing on Sundays, they both still possess that it factor that gave Coach Spurrier the confidence to allow freshmen to occupy these crucial roles. On Saturday they must maintain their poise under the big lights of the national stage with huge implications on the line. One mistake from the special teams could cost the Gamecocks the game and their hopes for a major bowl bid.
NIKKI – CATMAN…ENOUGH SAID: There are very few givens in college football, but Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro is about as close as it gets. The senior from Greenville is 12-of-13 this season with a career-long of 51. Catanzaro’s career began with a miss in overtime against Auburn in 2010, but since then he has gone on to have a stellar career with game-winning kicks to clinch an ACC Atlantic title in 2011 and a win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2012. When the game is on the line, there is nobody better than Chandler Catanzaro and nobody Clemson fans would rather see line up to knock the game winner through the uprights.
LAUREN- WHY THE GAMECOCKS WILL WIN: The Gamecocks will play their most complete game of the year Saturday night. The group of seniors, and juniors leaving for the draft, in their final home game at Williams-Brice will not disappoint the roaring crowd as they put Clemson away to clinch a 10 win regular season for the third year in a row. This group of seniors, who have never lost to Clemson, are not going to let the streak end at four over our in-state rivals as they move the streak to five for the first time ever.
GAMECOCKGIRL.COM SPORTS BLOGGESS LAUREN'S SCORE PREDICTION: SOUTH CAROLINA 27 - CLEMSON 21
NIKKI – WHY THE TIGERS WILL WIN: South Carolina has had Clemson’s number over the last four years and it hasn’t even been close. The Gamecocks always seem to catch the Tigers at the right time – right before an ACC Championship Game or right after an ACC battle with N.C. State or Georgia Tech. However, this year the Tigers had one final tune-up against The Citadel and it seems as though Clemson is finally playing its best football at the end of November. Boyd is as confident as he has ever been in the Clemson offense and has a stable of wide receivers that will test a young Gamecock secondary like that haven’t been tested this season. Clemson’s defense led by defensive end Vic Beasley, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and linebacker Spencer Shuey are playing better than they have at any point over the last five years. Boyd and Shuey are leading a group of seniors that are thirsty for a win over their rival and its finally time to tip the scale back in the favor of the orange and white.
CLEMSONGIRL.COM SPORTS BLOGGESS NIKKI'S SCORE PREDICTION: CLEMSON 31 – SOUTH CAROLINA 17
Post written by ClemsonGirl.com Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele and GamecockGirl.com Sports Bloggess Lauren Rippy.