November 28, 2014

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. USC

The turkey has been eaten, thanks have been given, and friendly pleasantries have been exchanged with friends and family who wear garnet and black.


In other words, Thanksgiving is over and rivalry week can continue.


All eyes in the state of South Carolina will turn to Death Valley in Clemson as the Tigers and Gamecocks prepare to battle for the 112th time in what will be called the Palmetto Bowl from this point forward.


There are plenty of storylines heading into the game and there is sure to be no shortage of drama


Will Deshaun Watson play at all for Clemson Saturday afternoon? Will this be Steve Spurrier’s final regular season game? And the biggest question of all, can Clemson end the five-game losing streak to its archrival.

WHAT: South Carolina at No. 22 Clemson

WHERE: Clemson, South Carolina

WHEN: 12 p.m. (ESPN)




IT’S A MENTAL THING: Everyone in the state of South Carolina and most people around the country know that Clemson has lost five straight to the Gamecocks. It’s not just that they’ve lost; it’s how they’ve lost. In 2013, Clemson had five turnovers – two turnovers on punts and interceptions on bad reads. It seems that when Clemson and South Carolina play everything that could possibly go wrong does, indeed go wrong. Is it just a thing of South Carolina being that much better on the field than Clemson or has the streak gotten in the heads of the Clemson players and coaches?


FUN N’ GUN: South Carolina brings the Southeastern Conference’s top quarterback in Dylan Thompson to Death Valley Saturday afternoon. The senior signal caller has completed 227-of-378 passes for 3,031 yards and 23 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.  Thompson has a bevy of targets at his disposal in Pharoh Cooper, Nick Jones, Mike Davis, Shaq Roland, and Rory Anderson, who all have 20 or more receptions and average over 11 yards per reception. Steve Spurrier made his name as a signal caller with the fun and gun offense. This season, the Head Ball Coach hasn’t been afraid to completely abandon the running game and throw it all over the field. Not only has Spurrier not been afraid to put the game on Thompson’s shoulders but he’s also used the wildcat formation often in games, especially late in the season. The main wildcat “quarterback” has been Cooper, who threw for a touchdown to seal last year’s game against Clemson. Last week against South Alabama the Gamecocks used four different players in the wildcat. Spurrier is pulling out all of the stops and Saturday will be no different.




DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: When Clemson’s defense takes the field Saturday afternoon they will be ranked number one in the nation in total defense, a ranking that they wish to still have when all is said and done Saturday night. This defense is filled with seniors all across the defensive line, at two linebacker spots and at two of the defensive back positions and none of them have ever beaten South Carolina. This is a win that they want badly. Clemson’s defense is number seven in the country against the run giving up 100 yards per game, while South Carolina brings in the No. 53 rushing offense averaging 179 yards per game. Through the air, Clemson is giving up 151 yards – good for second in the country – while South Carolina is averaging 281 yards per game. As good as those stats are, the Tigers are even better when playing inside Death Valley. Clemson’s defense is giving up only 65 yards per game on the ground and 145 yards through the air and have limited opponents to just seven touchdown in Memorial Stadium (UNC scored five touchdowns and Louisville scored two).


IT’S TIME: With the 34 seniors on this team and a dominant defense, Clemson’s time is now to change the course in the rivalry. The seniors don’t want to be another class that walks out of the doors of Clemson without being able to claim a victory over South Carolina. The Gamecocks are giving up 428 yards per game and over 30 points. Clemson’s offense has struggled at times this season but seemed to be running the ball better, especially with the emergence of Tyshon Dye. If Clemson is ready to turn the tide in the Palmetto Bowl, the time is now….at noon in Death Valley.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN: In the four years that I’ve been making predictions, I usually have a pretty good feel for what’s going to happen and usually don’t struggle when it comes to making a prediction, but this week’s prediction has me trying to decipher my heart from my logic and football knowledge. Every time I sit down and really think about how this game should play out, here are the basic questions I ask – Which team has the better defense? Which team has the better athletes? Which team has that home field advantage? The answer to all of those…Clemson, but I still find myself struggling. Maybe it’s the scar tissue from the previous five games where Clemson has seemed to have advantages. So…here goes nothing trying to predict a crazy rivalry game.


My bet is on Clemson’s defense and Clemson’s senior class. I’ve been around Grady Jarrett, Stephone Anthony, and Robert Smith this week. Those guys have made it clear that they want this win more anything else. They want to win this game for themselves and for the fans. Except for the final 10 minutes of the Georgia game and the second half against North Carolina, Clemson’s defense has more than held up its end of the bargain and will do so again Saturday afternoon. Clemson’s offense led by some combination of Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson will do just enough to get the job done.




Written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele Hood

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