Who has the edge? The Citadel at No. 2 Clemson

Who has the edge? The Citadel at No. 2 Clemson

Football

Who has the edge? The Citadel at No. 2 Clemson

The second-ranked Clemson Tigers host The Citadel today at 12:20 p.m. in the home finale. The Tigers are looking for the eighth straight win in Death Valley and their 10th win overall in 2017, which will give them seven straight 10-win seasons.

It’s also Military Appreciation Day in Clemson as well as Senior Day.

So who has the edge?

The Citadel’s triple option vs. the Clemson defense: The Bulldogs are No. 2 nationally in the FCS and lead the SoCon in rushing offense in 2017. The Citadel is averaging 308.6 rushing yards per game after leading the nation in rushing offense in 2016. The Citadel has rushed for over 300 yards in six games this season. Clemson’s defense on the other hand leads the ACC in rushing defense, allowing 112.7 yards per game. This is the third time this year the Tigers have faced the triple option. They held Kent State to 119 rushing yards in the season opener and then Georgia Tech managed just 198 yards on the ground, its lowest output of the season. Tech is averaging 324 yards per game on the ground, 4th nationally at the FBS level. Advantage: Clemson

The Citadel defense vs. Clemson’s running game: The Citadel ranks second in total defense in the SoCon. The Bulldogs trail only Wofford in total defense and are allowing just 323.9 yards per game. The Bulldogs are fourth in scoring defense (22.9 PPG), but only 2.5 PPG behind conference leader Mercer (20.4). Clemson’s running game ranks third in the ACC at 220.9 rushing yards per game. For the first time since 1990, the Tigers have three players with at least 500 yards on the ground. Quarterback Kelly Bryant has rushed for 608 yards and leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns. Freshman tailback Travis Etienne has a team-high 617 yards and nine touchdowns, while running back Tavien Feaster has 550 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers are averaging 5.1 yards per carry and have an ACC best 31 rushing touchdowns. Advantage: Clemson

The Citadel’s Dominique Allen vs. Clemson’s Dorian O’Daniel: Allen, the Bulldogs’ quarterback, is the leading rusher and passer. He has 571 rushing yards and eight scores and has thrown for another three touch­downs and 458 yards. He is averaging just 45.8 yards per game through the air. O’Daniel, Clemson’s strong side linebacker, specializes in stopping the triple option. He has played a huge role over the last four seasons on why the Tigers have been the only defense to consistently slow down or stop Georgia Tech’s triple option offense. Advantage: Clemson

Bottom Line: The Citadel seniors are playing in their final game and have 29 wins, two SoCon titles, and two FCS Playoff appearances on their resume. The 29 wins are the second-most over a four-year span at The Citadel (’90-’93 had 30 wins). This is a proud program. Clemson is a perfect 31-0 against FCS teams since the NCAA formed the division prior to the 1978 season. Southern Conference schools became I-AA in 1982. Clemson has outscored FCS teams by a 1,021-92 margin, an average victory of 40-7. Clemson has won 30 of the 31 games by at least double digits. The Bulldogs will put up a fight for a little while, but Clemson has too much depth and talent and should win this one fairly easy. However, don’t look for the Tigers to run up the score … that’s just not in head coach Dabo Swinney’s cards.

Prediction: Clemson 45, The Citadel 0

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