South Carolina at Clemson: Preview and Prediction

Suddenly, the excitement level surrounding this game soared.

One week ago, many South Carolina fans probably didn’t like their team’s chances to snap a seven-game losing streak to Clemson. Then the Tennessee game happened.

The Gamecocks absolutely annihilated the Vols, 63-38, scoring touchdowns on nine of their 10 offensive possessions. We can spend all day speculating as to why or how it happened, but the fact is, it did happen, and Shane Beamer’s team is riding high.

Clemson is also coming in off a dominating win over Miami, in what was arguably the Tigers’ best defensive performance of the season. We have heard the coaches talking about wanting that four-quarter performance all year, and Wes Goodwin’s unit finally delivered one.

That brings us to Saturday and this season’s Palmetto Bowl. Which South Carolina team shows up? For that matter, which Clemson team shows up?

Both teams are led by two former 5-star recruits at QB, Spencer Rattler, and DJ Uiagalelei. Ironically, both players have seen their share of ups and downs throughout their respective careers. Which one plays best this weekend will go a long way toward deciding who wins.

For Clemson, one of the biggest things is eliminating some of the costly turnovers. The Tigers fumbled the ball FIVE times against the Hurricanes, and have lost the turnover margin in four straight. The kind of sloppiness we saw against Miami can not happen Saturday. You can not give away free momentum in these rivalry games.

The biggest thing for the Tigers, though, will be the defense. If Clemson gets the same kind of effort we saw last week, it will be almost impossible for the Gamecocks to pull off the upset. Rattler had all night to throw against Tennessee and would be fairly surprising to see that happen again this week.

Since the loss at Notre Dame, Clemson’s defense has really started to put it together. Even on the backend. Nate Wiggins has been a different player over the past few weeks than the one we saw early in the season.

However, it all starts up front. Clemson must get pressure on Rattler and not let him get too comfortable in the pocket. Force him into making some mistakes. Let’s all remember, before last week, this is a guy who had thrown more picks than touchdowns. If he gets into a rhythm, that’s when he is dangerous.

At the end of the day, the Tigers are two-touchdown favorites for a reason. They are the better team period. They just need to go out and perform, and I expect they will do just that.

Despite what happened last week, the Gamecocks are who they are. A team that gives up almost 190 rushing yards per game. Shipley and Mafah will flourish. Maybe even Kobe Pace too.

The Tigers win a series-record eighth straight behind a strong running game and a stingy defense.

Clemson 31 South Carolina 13

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