Countdown to Kickoff: South Carolina at No. 2 Clemson
Though No. 2 Clemson has a date with No. 24 Pittsburgh set for next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, it has other business to attend to first in the state of South Carolina.
The Tigers will try to win a state championship as it hosts rival South Carolina at 7 p.m., on Saturday at Death Valley.
Clemson is looking for its fifth straight win in the series. The Tigers have won the last four meetings against the Gamecocks by an average margin of 24 points.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
Records: Clemson 11-0, 8-0 ACC; South Carolina 6-4, 4-4 SEC)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Radio: 105.5 in the Upstate (Clemson Tigers Radio Network); Sirius XM Radio Ch. 119; 193
Latest Line: Clemson (minus-26.5)
Series: Clemson leads the series 69-42-4
Streak: Clemson has won four straight
Last meeting: Nov. 25, 2017: Clemson 34, South Carolina 10
Three story lines
Clemson is going for its fifth straight win in the series. No Clemson team has won five straight against the Gamecocks since the teams of 1934-’40 won seven in a row over South Carolina.
The Tigers have an opportunity to finish regular season undefeated and untied for the fifth time in school history. The Tigers’ 1900 (6-0), 1948 (10-0), 1981 (11-0) and 2015 (12-0) teams all finished with undefeated and untied seasons. The 1906 (4-0-3) and the 1950 (8-0-1) teams did not lose a game as well in the regular season.
Clemson is hoping to improve to 12-0 for just the third time in history and for the second time in four years. The 1981 team finished the year 12-0 after beating Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl Classic. The 2015 team also went 12-0, but theirs came in their regular season finale win over South Carolina. That team started the year 14-0 before falling to Alabama in the national championship game. This year’s Tigers can become the fifth team in Clemson history, joining the 1981, 2015, 2016 and 2017 teams, to win 12 or more games in a season.
South Carolina players to watch
Jake Bentley, QB: Bentley has played well over the last month and nearly led the Gamecocks to a win at No. 11 Florida. South Carolina will need Bentley to continue to play well if they are to have a chance to compete with a defense that has gotten in his head the last two years. Bentley has just one touchdown pass and three interceptions in his first two games against Clemson, including one which was return for a touchdown. He has completed just 50 percent of his passes in the two games. So far this, Bentley has competed 65.1 percent of his passes for 2,244 yards. He has thrown 19 touchdowns and has nine interceptions through 10 games.
Deebo, Samuel, WR: He is South Carolina’s most dangerous player, whether it is on kick returns or at wide receiver. He has scored six touchdowns off 48 receptions for 639 yards, including a long of 89 yards. He is also averaging 25.2 yards per kick return and he took one back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Bryan Edwards, WR: He leads the Gamecocks with 659 yards on 42 receptions. He also has scored six touchdowns this year, and like Samuel is a dangerous return man in the punt game. He had a 75-yard touchdown catch at Ole Miss earlier this season. He is averaging 7.4 yards per punt return with a long of 32 yards.
South Carolina scouting report
The Gamecocks rank 46th nationally in total offense (429.), 37th in scoring (32.8), 67th in rushing (167.8) and 34th in passing (262.0).
South Carolina has not stopped the run all year. The Gamecocks gave up 367 rushing yards against Florida two weeks ago and rank 92nd nationally against the run at 190.1 yards per game. Opponents are averaging 4.46 per rush which ranks 79th nationally.
South Carolina ranks 79th in total defense as well at 409.9, just below Rutgers, who is No. 78 in total defense. In scoring defense, they rank 63rd nationally, allowing 26.7 points per game.
Freshman R.J. Roderick will start at safety for South Carolina, a position that has been depleted with injuries.
Senior Bryson Allen-Williams has already been ruled out and defensive end D.J. Wonnum is listed as questionable. Sophomore Aaron Sterling is banged up as well on the defensive line.