Clemson versus South Carolina is one of the more underrated and hate-filled rivalries in college football. The Gamecocks and Tigers have been playing since 1896, and Clemson the all-time series 65-39-4. The Tigers won 10 of the 12 matchups from 1997 to 2008, but Steve Spurrier’s crew has rebounded to win the last two games in the series. Both teams enter Saturday’s battle ranked in the Top 20 with 9-2 records. Clemson started 8-0, but the Tigers have lost two of their last three. However, Dabo Swinney’s bunch should get standout receiver Sammy Watkins back from injury this weekend. South Carolina has struggled to score points since losing All-America running back Marcus Lattimore to a knee injury.
Who wins the battle of the Palmetto State?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Clemson has been trending in the wrong direction over the last few weeks, but I think it will knock off South Carolina on Saturday. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has struggled with turnovers recently, throwing two interceptions in each of his last three games. However, the Tigers will get some help for their passing game, as receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to return from a shoulder injury this week. With Watkins back in the mix, the Tigers will be able to stretch the field with his speed. While getting Watkins back will help, Clemson has to do a better job of pass protection, especially against an active South Carolina defensive line. The Gamecocks have struggled to generate offense without running back Marcus Lattimore, but have to find a way to control the clock and keep the Tigers’ passing attack on the sideline. Whichever team is able to get its style of play going will win this game. Clemson’s best chance to get a victory rests with jumping on the Gamecocks and pulling ahead early. Even though the Tigers have struggled recently, I think they will find a way to win on Saturday.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Sammy Watkins says he will be 100% at kickoff and that may be all that matters. The Tigers have turned the ball over entirely too much lately, and South Carolina has played great defense of late. But with nothing on the line for either team in terms of conference championships, pure hatred should fuel this rivalry. Clemson should right the ship on offense with Watkins in the game and will outlast a South Carolina team that has struggled to score points.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
While there is concern for South Carolina’s lack of offense, I think the Gamecocks find a way to win at home in this heated rivalry game. Running back Brandon Wilds has topped 100 yards in three of the last four USC games, and quarterback Connor Shaw has showed a solid ability to run the ball as well. I see South Carolina keeping the ball on the ground and away from the Clemson offense. The Tigers will get a boost from the return of freshman wideout Sammy Watkins, but South Carolina will be the toughest defense that Tajh Boyd and company have seen this year. The atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium will be electric, and I’ll take South Carolina to win by three.