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GCF  South Carolina vs. Clemson Game Preview, Prediction & Discussion Thread


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GCF  South Carolina vs. Clemson Game Preview, Prediction & Discussion Thread

Nov. 09, 2021

Up until 2020, the Carolina-Clemson game was the longest-played rivalry game in the country, spanning over 100 years of matchups. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC opted to only play conference games, which sidelined the rivalry for a season. One year later, the game is back on with the Tigers traveling to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks.

CLEMSON VS. SOUTH CAROLINA GAME, TV INFO

 Who: Clemson (8-3, 6-2 ACC) vs. South Carolina (6-5, 3-5 SEC)

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

 THE TIGERS RIDING HIGH

 After its offense struggled for much of the season, Clemson is on a four-game winning streak and had a complete game against Wake Forest over the weekend in a 48-27 victory. The Tigers ended ACC play with a 6-2 conference record and need a few things go their way to clinch the Atlantic Division in the hopes of extending their conference championship streak.

 THE GAMECOCKS RIDING HIGH

 In Shane Beamer’s first year as head coach, the Gamecocks have had their own struggles but became bowl-eligible on Saturday. The squad outlasted Auburn 21-17 for its third SEC win of the season. South Carolina is 5-1 at home in 2021 and will try to end the year on a high note when Clemson comes to town. RIVALRY GAME FACTS ▪ Series history and streaks: Clemson leads the series 71-42-4 and has won the last six meetings. In that time span, the Tigers have outscored their in-state rival 256-104. Before that, South Carolina  then coached by Steve Spurrier  had won five straight via a 155-71 scoring edge.

▪ Big Thursday: The rivalry game was played in Columbia only through 1959 and on Thursday of State Fair week. ▪ The Palmetto Bowl: The game was branded “The Palmetto Bowl” in 2014 in a renaming celebrated by both schools, and a trophy now goes to the winning team. “The Palmetto Bowl gives this rivalry an identity that highlights the State of South Carolina and the accomplishments of these outstanding institutions,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said of the new name seven years ago.

GAMECOCKS TO WATCH

RB ZaQuandre White: Serving as a spark in the run game, ZaQuandre White is averaging 7.1 yards a carry for a Gamecocks squad that’s recorded 127.9 rushing yards an outing.

 QB Jason Brown: In his first start this season, Jason Brown led the Gamecocks to a victory over Florida, then had a drop-off against Missouri. With three games under his belt, the signal caller will get his fourth and final start of the season against Clemson after throwing for 157 yards and three touchdowns against Auburn.

DB Jaylan Foster: As the Gamecocks’ leading tackler, Jaylan Foster has 85 stops to go along with five interceptions, two forced fumbles and two quarterback sacks on the year. He’ll need another standout performance to give the squad a chance to close out the year with a win.

 TIGERS TO WATCH

 WR Beaux Collins: The more playing time Beaux Collins has recorded, the better he’s played. With the Tigers down another receiver in E.J. Williams, Collins had another big game, totaling 137 yards on four catches against Wake Forest.

DLEtinosa Reuben: Where injuries have plagued the Tigers, the depth on the defensive line has been a saving grace. That includes Etinosa Reuben, who got his second start of the season and tallied two quarterback sacks over the weekend.

RB Will Shipley: While off to a stellar freshman campaign, Will Shipley will get his first taste of the Clemson-Carolina rivalry after recording 112 rushing yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns in a 48-27 win over Wake Forest on Saturday. The Gamecocks were among Shipley’s many college scholarship offers.

THE BETTING SIDE

No matter how much changes, some things stay the same. Clemson enters its annual state rivalry game against South Carolina with three losses on the season and an offense that's ranked among the worst in its own conference. The Gamecocks have a new, first-time head coach in Shane Beamer and have overcome their own share of quarterback issues and injuries to reach bowl eligibility, something they didn't do a year ago. 

But when the opening betting line was released Sunday afternoon for Saturday's 7:30 p.m. showdown at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, the expectations are more of the same: a Clemson victory by double digits. 

That's at least what oddsmakers are saying by making the Tigers an 11.5-point favorite over the Gamecocks at SI Sportsbook. Both teams enter the game coming off impressive wins. Clemson dominated No. 10 Wake Forest 48-27 as a 4.5-point favorite on Saturday while South Carolina edged Auburn 21-17 as a 7.5-point underdog at home. 

This marks the sixth consecutive year that Clemson, which has won every meeting since 2014, has been favored in the series. The Tigers have been favored by double digits in all but one of those years, and this is the lowest spread during that span. Clemson has covered the spread in three of the last four showdowns. 

On the season, the Tigers are just 3-8 against the spread while South Carolina is 5-5-1. The total is set at 41.5 points. Both teams have gone under more than over on the season

  • Spread: Clemson -14
  • Moneyline: Clemson -475; South Carolina +350
  • Over/under: 41.5

To cap off the regular season, we have the Palmetto Bowl between Clemson and South Carolina. The big issue here is the coaching matchup. Shane Beamer is in his first year at the helm of the Gamecocks and has just endured a brutal SEC gauntlet, only to face Dabo Swinney’s squad at the end of a frustrating year.  Clemson wants to beat South Carolina no matter what. However, this Gamecock team is good enough to pull it off if it can get the offense going early. It’ll be a close, low-scoring four-quarter battle with the Clemson D getting one final stop to survive.

GCF Prediction: Clemson 26, South Carolina 21

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Key players that need to have good night for a Gamecock victory Saturday night.

OFFENSE

 ZaQuandre White has become a stalwart in this column each week, but why not? The former Florida State Seminole has played a huge part in South Carolina’s late-season run and averaged more than 7.4 yards per touch on his 31 carries entering the Auburn game. White finished Saturday’s win over the Alabama-based Tigers one-yard shy of his third 100-yard rushing effort of the season. He made up for it with three receptions for 69 yards and a 28-yard touchdown catch from Jason Brown.

South Carolina has had all sorts of offensive issues, but White’s emergence coupled with what  at least on the surface  seems to be a healthier Kevin Harris only stands to help the Gamecocks on Saturday in Columbia.

DEFENSE

South Carolina’s defense has been way ahead of schedule in Year 1 under Clayton White. A big reason for that is the Gamecocks’ defensive line led by Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare. Enagbare is a rare combination of speed and size. He’s 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds but runs like a receiver. He’s physical enough to fight off tackles and agile enough to cover in space. Clemson — not too dissimilar from South Carolina — has had a whole host of problems offensively.

The Tigers have failed to hit the 300-yard mark three different times this fall. They also failed to throw for more than 200 yards on six occasions in 2021. Issues aside, Swinney’s bunch has started to find their stride of late. Clemson notched almost 500 yards of offense against lowly Connecticut two weeks ago. It exploded for 48 points and 543 yards against perceived ACC front-runner Wake Forest last week. South Carolina has a chance to disrupt quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei in the same way it forced Auburn’s T.J. Finley to throw quicker than he wanted to on Saturday. If USC is going to do that, Enagbare is going to be a key piece.

 

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