Third-ranked Clemson hosts Wofford today at 4 p.m., as Clemson University honors the United States Armed Forces buy holding its Annual Military Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium.
Wofford, No. 20 in the FCS Coaches Poll, comes in on a 5-game winning streak, while the Tigers own a school-record 23-game winning streak. They have also won 20 straight games at Death Valley as well.
So, who has the edge in this battle of two Palmetto State teams?
Wofford’s running game vs. Clemson’s defense: Though Clemson is a 46.5-point favorite to win the game, the Terriers’ offense will be one of the best tests from a running standpoint the Tigers have seen this season. Wofford comes in ranked second nationally at the FCS level when it comes to running the football. The Terriers are averaging 361.7 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry. Quarterback Joe Newman leads their triple-option offense with 760 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is averaging 8.3 yards per carry. This will be the first time this year Clemson’s defense will see the triple option. For a defense that is known for its aggressive style, the Tigers will have to stay disciplined and play their assignments well. For Clemson’s young players on the defensive line, they’ll have to stay alert when it comes to chop blocks something they normally do not have to watch for when playing a typical college offensive attack. Clemson’s defense is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry this season and six rushing touchdowns. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s wide receivers vs. Wofford’s secondary: The biggest mismatch in today’s game is Clemson’s tall receivers against Wofford’s small defensive backs. The Terriers’ tallest defensive back is free safety Dimitri Redwood, who stands at 6-2 and weighs 200 pounds. Corners Darron Paschal and George Gbesee are 5-10 and 5-8 respectively, while strong safety Mason Alstatt stands at 6-0. The Tigers have Justyn Ross (6-4), Tee Higgins (6-4), Diondre Overton (6-4), Joseph Ngata (6-4) and Frank Ladson (6-3) playing wide receiver, one of the tallest and most skilled wide receiving corps in the country. Look for Clemson to try and exploit this advantage whenever it gets the chance. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s Travis Etienne vs. Wofford’s defense: Like its offense, the Terriers run defense is also one of the best at the FCS level. They are allowing just 104 yards per game on the ground. However, they have not faced a running back with the speed, explosion and power of Travis Etienne, who has been running like a man on a mission the last three games. The junior has rushed for 428 of his team high 890 yards in the last three games. Etienne is averaging an ACC-best 7.8 yards per carry. Wofford runs out of a 3-4 base where nose tackle Elijah Bell is the biggest guy on the defensive line at 6-3, 285. The smallest guy on Clemson’s offensive line, in terms of size, is reserve right tackle Chandler Reeves, who is 6-6 and weighs 290 pounds. On the left side of the line, Jackson Carman (6-5) and Johnson Simpson (6-4) weigh 345 and 330 respectively, while center Sean Pollard is 6-5, 310, right guard Gage Cervenka is 6-3, 325 and right tackle Tremayne Anchrum is 6-2, 315. Advantage: Clemson
Bottom line: Clemson has way too much firepower for Wofford to compete for an entire game. However, the Terriers’ triple-option has a chance to limit the Tigers’ possessions, so Clemson’s offense will have to be efficient when it does get its opportunities. Once Clemson’s defense settles into the game and adjusts to playing the triple option, look for the Tigers to take over and use its talent to run away with the game.
Score Prediction: Clemson 66, Wofford 7
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