Clemson and South Carolina have the second-longest running series in college football, meeting every year since 1909, but only recently has this series held the kind of national title implications that have been on the line in the annual regular season finale. The Gamecocks have a chance to put a big dent in the Tigers’ push for a third straight College Football Playoff bid by adding a second loss to Clemson’s resume heading into the ACC Championship Game against Miami.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 25 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Williams-Brice Stadium — Columbia, South Carolina
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
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Clemson: The Tigers absolutely blasted South Carolina last year, winning 56-7 behind a Deshaun Watson-led 622-yard offensive effort. Clemson’s offense has been improving as budding young stars like running back Travis Etienne and wide receiver Tee Higgins have settled in throughout the season, but right now the strength of the Tigers’ title push in 2017 relies on the defense. If Clemson can establish dominance in the trenches and allow that offense to roll again, it would establish a good baseline to build on heading into championship week.
South Carolina: If South Carolina can keep this game close, it has to like the odds of giving Jake Bentley the ball with a shot to tie or win the game. Bentley’s ability to extend plays with his legs and throw receivers open makes him dangerous in clutch situations. The Gamecocks have also gotten strong play from wide receiver Bryan Edwards and tight end Hayden Hurst, suggesting that they are a threat in this spot, particularly considering the sold-out home crowd under the lights. So will South Carolina have a shot at the end of the game? That’s going to come down to its defense stopping the run and the Gamecocks offensive line playing one of its best games of the season.
The player development in two years with Will Muschamp at the helm has been one of the biggest reasons that South Carolina has exceeded preseason expectations. The Gamecocks are a good football team, playing against a hated rival at home in front of a rowdy home crowd. Clemson should win, but there’s no way I’m going to predict an easy win for the defending champs when they’re this close to the finish line. Pick: South Carolina +14.5