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South Carolina

vs.

Clemson

Free College Football Pick

11/24/12

In the annual battle of South Carolina, we'll get to find out exactly how good Clemson is. While they are 10-1, the Tigers play in the ACC and haven't really had a tough out-of-conference opponent. Even without Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina has won three straight games. Their only two losses are on the road at LSU and Florida. The Tigers come in as 3.5-point favorites in most books and will hope to come within 17 points, something they haven't done in three straight meetings.

Last year, South Carolina dominated at home 34-13. The Gamecocks contained Taj Boyd to 11-of-29 passing and just 83 yards. It's usually automatic for Boyd to reach 200 yards. South Carolina's Connor Shaw threw for three TDs while running for 107 yards and another TD. Can South Carolina's defense stop one of the best offenses in the country again? They have shown some weakness this year, giving up 35 points to Tennessee.

Boyd is having another great season with 33 TDs and 11 INTs, but more importantly, he's been more efficient than in 2011. He's completing 68 percent of his passes which is eight points better than last year and leads to about two yards more per attempt, as well. He has also been a better runner with 466 yards and eight TDs compared to 218 yards last year on roughly the same amount of carries. Andre Ellington only has three 100-yard games this year, but is still doing enough. He has 959 yards at 5.2 yards per carry for eight touchdowns. The receiving game is dominated by DeAndre Hopkins who has a touchdown in all but one game this year. He has 1,171 yards and 15 TDs this season. Sammy Watkins has also been a big plus, getting at least 84 yards in four of his past five games.

South Carolina doesn't have quite the explosive offense, but they also play in the SEC. The only games that the Gamecocks have struggled offensively were against two of the best defenses in the country in LSU and Florida. Clemson does not have one of the best defenses in the country, (they just gave up 48 points to NC State). It wouldn't be surprising if Connor Shaw was able to get his second 300-yard, three-TD game of the season. The last time that happened was in a 38-35 win over Tennessee which could be a lot like this one. Shaw can move on the ground as well with 339 yards, but is more of a passer than he was a year ago. Kenny Miles took over after Lattimore busted his knee and has struggled. Although, it's not the easiest thing to replace an NFL-ready running back. Miles had 127 yards last week, but you can't look into that much as it was against Wofford.

The Gamecocks are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games following an ATS loss and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall. The Tigers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall, yet just 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games. South Carolina has covered in five of their last six meetings with Clemson, but the home team has gone 4-1 ATS in their last five. The over has hit four straight times for the Gamecocks, but the under is a surprising 5-1 in Clemson's last six games vs. the SEC.

We see this one as a close game coming down to the wire. It's not Key Release material but we have to take any points available here. South Carolina +3.5

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