Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CLAWS vs. PAWS - Week 13 - USC vs. CLEMSON!

Weekend of November 24, 2012

South Carolina at Clemson
(Clemson is favored by 4 points)


I will say this right off the bat.  I have finally lived long enough to see a year where Clemson fans have completely lost their minds in desperation to beat Carolina, while Carolina fans are dealing with the “disappointment” of a 9-win season.  As a man who has lived through 3 separate 4-game losing streaks to Clemson, I am dadgum happy to be in this spot for a change. 

Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, all of the stars appear to have finally aligned to get Dabo a meaningful win (unless you count the world’s tallest midget title, aka the ACC championship from last year).  Sure, he used Tommy Bowden’s players to grab a win over us when he first arrived in Tiger Town, but since then he has been getting beat up pretty good by Spurrier. 

Clemson’s strength plays right against what I see is Carolina’s 1 real weakness.  The Tigers have plenty of speed and depth at receiver, while the Achilles’ heel for Carolina this year has been our defensive back play.  Hopkins and Ford are fun to watch and Sammy may even avoid getting stoned to play well himself.  So I expect Clemson to strike aggressively early to try and build a lead before we settle down. 

That in and of itself wouldn’t bother me if I had confidence in Connor Shaw on the road, which I don’t.  Clemson is tired of being gutted by Kenny Miles so they will stop him and drop into the same deep zone that has given Shaw fits this year.  We will get some points against Clemson’s defense.  No doubt about that.  But I just don’t see us winning an up-tempo shootout. 

If the game is in the teens or low 20s and close late then it’s a different story.  (Think Stanford-Oregon as the type of game the Gamecocks want to see.)  But I just have a gut feeling that this is Clemson’s year to have the breaks fall their way.  The Tigers build a lead early, the Gamecocks fight back and then Clemson pulls away late.

Clemson 41, South Carolina 24
Clemson wins and covers the four point spread.


On Saturday night, you have to ask yourself: “Who do you trust?”  And how you answer that question will determine who you think will win.

The first question: Do you trust Spurrier or Dabo?
If this was an ethics exam, I’d take Dabo.  If this was a golf match, I’d take Spurrier.

But it’s neither.  The question is when the lights come one and the ball is snapped, who do you trust.  For X’s & O’s, I’d take Spurrier.  For personnel management, motivation, and trust, I’d take Dabo.  For ego, it’d be a tie.

Both coaches will throw everything they have at the other, and lately that’s gone Spurrier’s way.  But as we’ve seen, Dabo and Morris always have a few tricks up their sleeves.

The second question: Do you trust UCS’ O or Clemson’s D?
If this UCS team had a healthy Lattimore and one more year of Alshon, I’d take UCS, in a heartbeat.  But this isn’t a great offense and they don’t have Lattimore or Alshon, but I’d still take UCS’ O, just in two heartbeats.

The Clemson defense is just plain bad.  We thought they were improving, but after NC State dropped 48 on them, we knew better.  And more than that, they gave up huge plays as State had four 1-play touchdown drives.  UCS will have offensive success; the question will be can Clemson make some stops.

The third question: Do you trust Clemson’ O or UCS’ D?
Early in the year, especially after the Georgia game, this was a closer call.  Clemson’s offense was prolific, but UCS had shown it was capable of shutting down big time offenses.  Since then, they’ve given up 44 to Florida, 35 to Tennessee, and 20 to Arkansas, which should’ve been worse.  Meanwhile Clemson has scored at least 26 in every game and scored at least 37 in 10 straight games.

The final questions: Do you trust Connor Shaw on the road?
This is more of a Yes/No rather than an Either/Or.

UCS has only played four games away from the armpit: wins at Vandy & Kentucky and losses at LSU and Florida.  Their best offensive performance was 38 points at Kentucky, a game they trailed by 10 at the half.

If you are comfortable with Shaw performing well away from his jort wearing, mullet-haired friends, then you take UCS and the points.  If not, then you take Clemson.

As for me, and my house, we’ll take the orange.

Clemson 30, UCS 23
Clemson wins and covers the point spread.


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