Early Analysis: Clemson at South Carolina

PHOTO: USA Today Sports

#6 Clemson (10-1) at #10 South Carolina (9-2)

Saturday, 7 PM, ESPN 2

Line: South Carolina by 5

Clemson comes into this game on a four game winning streak and have beaten everybody they've played this year except #2 Florida State. South Carolina also enters the game on a four game winning streak with their losses both coming on the road this season (Georgia and Tennessee). The last time the Gamecocks lost a game at home was in October of 2011 when they fell 16-13 to the Auburn Tigers. 

Clemson owns a twenty-four game lead in "The Battle of the Palmetto State" but the momentum of this series has turned sharply in the direction of South Carolina. Since taking over at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier is 5-3 in this series and has won the last four games. Dabo Swinney is just 1-4 in this rivalry.

For Clemson to win: In the last two games of this series, South Carolina has dominated time of possession. Clemson has to do a better job getting the Gamecocks off the field by stopping them on third and fourth down conversion attempts. A big key for the Tigers will be shutting down RB Mike Davis and making the Gamecocks win the game through the air.

For South Carolina to win: Don't give up the big play and make Clemson earn every yard they gain. In their wins this season, Clemson has 63 plays of 20 or more yards. In their one loss they had none. The Gamecocks also need to remember that they have the SEC leading rusher, Mike Davis, on their team. Despite leading the SEC in rushing he's only had 20 carries or more in three games.

Key Player, Clemson: Tajh Boyd. Boyd has never beaten South Carolina. In 2012,  he was 11 of 24 with 2 INT. In 2011, he was 11 of 29 for just 83 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Recently (not just Boyd), Clemson's QB play in this series has been sub-par. They need their leader to lead them in this game. Boyd will be a big reason that Clemson wins or losses this game.

Key Player, South Carolina: Mike Davis. Clemson's rush defense is middle of the pack in the ACC giving up 153 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry. Davis sat out the Gamecocks win last week against Coastal Carolina with "assorted" injuries. Now that he's rested, the Gamecocks will be counting on him to have a big game against Clemson and help the Gamecocks control the football and keep Tajh Boyd off the field.

Key Stat: In the last three games of this rivalry, Clemson has scored just six total points in the second half. That's an average of two points per game.

About Kevin Causey

Dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Comeback.