No. 3 Clemson at No. 24 South Carolina
Third-ranked Clemson heads to Columbia, S.C., with a lot at stake and bragging rights on the line in the Palmetto State.
The Tigers of course control their own destiny in the College Football Playoff and need a victory on Saturday against rival and No. 24 South Carolina, coupled with a win over No. 2 Miami in next week’s ACC Championship Game to advance to the CFP for a third straight year.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
Records: Clemson 10-1, 7-1 ACC; South Carolina 8-3, 5-3 SEC
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 105.5 in the Upstate (Clemson Tigers Radio Network); XM Radio Ch. 191
Latest Line: Clemson favored by 16 points
Series: Clemson leads the series 68-42-4
First meeting: 1896, South Carolina won 12-6
Last meeting: Clemson won 56-7 in 2016
Streak: Clemson has won three straight in the series
Injury Report: Out for Season: Richard Yeargin, DE, Neck; Logan Rudolph, DE, Shoulder; Cole Renfrow, TE, Knee; Greg Huegel, PK, Knee. Out this Game: Garrett Williams, TE, knee; Tre Lamar, LB, back. Doubtful: Dexter Lawrence, DT, foot; Tre Lamar, LB, back. Questionable: Chad Smith, LB, calf.
Three story lines
As mentioned above, Clemson needs to keep winning to keep its playoff chances alive.
The last couple of years have been chippy between these two programs and that could be on the increase this year. The Gamecocks and Tigers have been going back and forth all week. Clemson players feel like South Carolina players have disrespected what they have accomplished the last few years, while the Gamecocks are still upset from the 56-7 beating they took from the hands of the Tigers last season and vowed to get revenge in this year’s game.
Bragging rights will be on the line. Clemson has won the last three games by a combined score of 128-56 and has combined to total more than 1,500 yards of total offense in the three games. The Tigers want to keep the streak going, while helping the senior class become the first group of seniors since 2005 at Clemson to win all four of its meetings over the Gamecocks.
South Carolina players to watch
Jake Bentley, QB: Has completed 63.1 percent of his passes (210-of-333) with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2017. He ranks fifth in the SEC in passing yards per game at 220.8. He is also averaging 227.8 total yards per game as well.
Bryan Edwards, WR: Leads the Gamecocks with 53 receptions and with 635 receiving yards. Edwards ranks third in the SEC in receptions per game at 4.8.
Hayden Hurst, TE: The tight end ranks second on the squad with 38 receptions and with 490 receiving yards this season He has tallied three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing. He is a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy and for the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end.
Skai Moore, LB: Moore leads the team and is tied for 16th in the SEC with 73 tackles, averaging 6.6 tackles per game. He has led the team in tackles in five games this season. Moore owns 7.0 tackles for loss, second on the squad, along with a pair of sacks.
T.J. Brunson, LB: Second on the team and ranks tied for 21st in the SEC with 70 tackles, 6.4 per game. He had a career-high 16 tackles in the win over NC State. It was the most stops in a game by a Gamecock since 2011.
South Carolina scouting report
South Carolina leads the SEC and is tied for 20th in the country with 21 turnovers forced (11 fumbles and 10 interceptions). The Gamecocks are plus-9 in turnover margin, second in the SEC and tied for 14th in the country.
The Gamecocks are not only winning the turnover battle, but converting those turnovers into points. Carolina has tallied 76 points off their 21 turnovers forced, while allowing just six points following their 12 turnovers.
The Gamecocks are allowing just 19.6 points per game this season, 21st in the country. If that number holds up, it would be their best mark since the 2012 squad allowed just 18.2 points, and would mark the fourth-straight year in which Carolina has shown improvement, going from 30.4 points per game in 2014, to 27.5 in 2015 to 26.5 last season.