It's hard to believe we've arrived at the end of the regular season. I'll be watching this one live from Williams-Brice and then heading back home early tomorrow. I've seen two Carolina-Clemson games live in the last 10 seasons: 2013 and 2015. The 2013 win was one of my favorite of all time, and a greatly overmatched Gamecocks squad gave Clemson all they wanted in 2015. Let's hope they continue to play well with me in attendance. Here's some thoughts:
- South Carolina is currently 20th in the nation in Scoring Defense, while Clemson has the nation's 23rd ranked Scoring Offense. Clemson is fairly one-dimensional and depends on the run. SC is 40th in the nation in defending the run, but has been performing a lot better than 40th in recent weeks. I expect the Defense to keep Clemson from putting a lot of points on the board.
- Clemson's Scoring Defense is currently ranked 3rd in nation, South Carolina is 89th in Scoring Offense. This is the match-up that represents Clemson's biggest advantage in the game. Bentley needs to have the game of his career (up to this point) and the Gamecocks have to find a way to run the ball. If the Gamecocks can get 150 yards rushing I think they can win the game.
- Clemson kicker Alex Spence actually has a higher (albeit very low) than Parker White. Spence's 54.5% slightly edges White's 52.4%. White has 10 more attempts on the season, though, and has been more consistent of late. In a close game, I've got to give the edge to South Carolina in the kicking department.
- The Gamecocks are 14th in Turnover Margin at +9. Clemson is tied for 45th at +3. This is the key stat that the Gamecocks have to use to their advantage. I expect the Offense to struggle to move the ball, and the Defense is going to need to force at least 2 turnovers to give the Offense a short field.
- Jake Bentley is responsible for more TDs this season than Kelly Bryant. Jake has 21 (15 Pass, 6 Run) compared with 20 for Bryant (10 Pass, 10 Run).
- Watching the videos of the player media availabilities this week, one thing that struck me was the intensity in the eyes of every single player interviewed. I think they've been looking forward to this one for the entire year, and will come out ready to play.
- One interesting thing I noticed is that the Gamecocks are 5-0 against Clemson when entering this game with 8 or more wins.
The line opened with Clemson favored by 15.5, but that has since fallen to 13.5 as I write this. I think realistically SC has about a 25% chance to win this game, but I just can't force myself to pick against them in this one. Prediction: USC 24 - Clemson 21. The lady of the house doesn't think the Gamecocks will pull off the upset, and has the score as USC 24 - Clemson 31.