Weekend of November 30, 2013
Not sure which cliché to pull out of the cupboard for this year’s contest. You can throw out the records when these teams get together. Well, actually you can’t. Over the course of the series, the better, or favored team, typically wins. Defense wins championships? Well, until USC wins a championship, this one stays in the bag. The crowd will be the factor – take the home team. Even though USC has won the last two in Columbia, Clemson has won 11 of the last 15 in Columbia. Actually, Clemson has more series wins in Columbia than they do in Clemson. In fact, Clemson has more series wins in Columbia that South Carolina does. Take it one play at a time. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Over the last four years, South Carolina has averaged more plays than Clemson, and has won all four. Control the ball and you control the game. Again, USC has owned time of possession in the last four games. Win the turnover battle and you win the game. Ding, Ding, Ding. In each of the last six Clemson-Carolina game (and nine of last ten), the winning team also won the turnover battle.
On the season, South Carolina has been feast or famine when it comes to turnovers. They have three games with at least three turnovers and four games with no turnovers, including the last three (against Miss State, Florida, & Coastal nonetheless). On the other hand, Clemson is typically good for at least one miscue. Clemson has just one game where it lost the turnover battle: Florida State, meanwhile South Carolina has lost the turnover battle in five of their games, including both losses.
Look for Clemson to come out focused and aggressive early as they try to establish themselves. If it works, Clemson could ride that momentum all night long. If they struggle, they could find themselves singing here we go again, but regardless, they must hold on to the ball and take it a few times from their kid brother.
In the end, it works as Clemson stays the course and USC makes a few mistakes, and Clemson leaves Williams-Brice with a streak busting and BCS sealing win.
South Carolina 23
South Carolina 23
I have been just roasted by my Gamecock friends because I am picking the Tigers to win this year, and I will concede that my Tiger friends’ behavior has me suspicious that I may have misread things. But I always trust my gut instinct and am honest about what I think will happen. Too many intangibles are pointing in the Klimpletons direction this year.
First, Clemson’s strength plays right into our weakness. We have been consistently exposed in the middle of our defense this year. So the Tiggers will get some points and big plays. Second, this is the first season where the conference officials have something to protect: Clemson’s unearned at-large BCS bid. I have never liked the road team bringing their conference refs, but this is the first year that I think they will actually affect the outcome of the game. Finally, there is the winning streak. Carolina has faced a five-game losing streak to the kittens four times in my lifetime. All four times- 1984, 1992 and 2001 and 2006- we won the game.
There are certainly reasons to like USC as well. Connor Shaw’s last game at home in which he certainly doesn’t want to go out losing his first time to Moo U, our run game without a doubt being one of the best they have faced, our defense only being the 2nd fact that they still have my favorite drooling, deranged lunatic in a sweatshirt coaching them. (Again, if Clemson does win, I can’t wait to hear him declare himself the best Clemson Coach to ever go 2-4 against Carolina.)
Perhaps more than ever, the first 1/3 of this game will likely tell the tale. Clemson wants to come out smoking and build a big lead, which will make Shaw’s arm beat them and keep us away from our desire to use ball-control and time of possession. I think they’ll be able to do so, and we’ll have a different form of “animal husbandry” going in pickup trucks all along Bluff Road when the night is done.
South Carolina 20