Third-ranked Clemson will host S.C. State today in Death Valley. The game is scheduled to kick off at noon, and will be televised by the Fox Sports Regional Network.
Clemson enters the game with a 2-0 record, the sixth time in Dabo Swinney’s eight years the Tigers have started a season 2-0. It might not seem like a big accomplishment, but it is in terms of Clemson history over the last 60 years. Between 1961 and 2008 Clemson started 2-0 just 13 of 48 seasons.
Here are the key matchups to watch in the home opener.
Clelin Ferrell vs. S.C. State’s Javarius Leamon: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says S.C. State left tackle Javarius Leamon (6-7, 310) will be one of the best they will see this year. He is a guy Clemson recruited, but he ended up having to go a different route. Though he is a freshman, this will be a good opportunity for Clelin Ferrell (6-5, 265) to show pro scouts what he can do at defensive end against who is considered a top-rated left tackle prospect in next year’s NFL Draft. A lot of scouts will be in attendance to watch Leamon go against Clemson and its highly skilled defenders. Clemson’s defense already has 21 tackles for loss and five sacks in two games. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s defense vs. S.C. State quarterback Caleb York: Caleb York leads the Bulldogs with 271 yards and two scores. He also has 78 yards on the ground to lead his team. Swinney describes York has a solid quarterback and a good football player. He says he is savvy and has a good instinct. In the first two games, the Tigers have grabbed five interceptions, while holding opponents to 54.7 percent passing and two touchdowns. Clemson also has 12 quarterback pressures to go with its five sacks. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s running game vs. S.C. State’s front seven: The Bulldogs are tiny up front. Defensive ends Gregtavious Newell (6-1, 210) and Tyberius Cravens (6-1, 231) are extremely small, while the interior has Tyrell Goodwin (6-0, 265) at tackle and Paul McKeiver (6-4, 290) at the nose. At linebacker, Darius Leonard and Dayshawn Taylor are sound. Leonard is the brother of former Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters. He is a long athletic player that brings good pressure off the edge. Taylor is a very productive player, too. He is a little bit like Clemson linebacker Jalen Williams without the measurables. After playing well against Auburn in Week 1, the Tigers struggled against Troy last week, so look for Clemson to try and fix that and get running back Wayne Gallman off to a good start early and for the running game to get back on track. Advantage: Clemson
Bottom line: The theme this week is all about having fun. With an offense that has been struggling to find a rhythm, S.C. State is just what the doctor ordered. Granted, what happens today will not answer any of the questions the Tigers’ offense has conjured up the first two games. But it should help with its confidence, especially the wide receivers which dropped eight passes last week. The Bulldogs gave up 38 points to Central Florida and 53 to Louisiana Tech. The last time Clemson played S.C. State in 2014, it scored 73 points with an offense that was not as talented and experienced as this year’s group. Look for the Tigers to get back on track. Prediction: Clemson 63, S.C. State 0