College Football Pick
The end of the season hasn’t gone to plan for Clemson, but that shouldn’t matter as long as they keep winning. The Tigers should have a spot in the College Football Playoff if they win their next two, the ACC title Game included. South Carolina has surprised as of late, but the Tigers were still -24 point home favorites early in the week.
It was only a year ago that a three-win South Carolina team took an undefeated Clemson to the brink in a 37-32 win for the Tigers. It wouldn’t be surprising if the same happened again due to Clemson’s inconsistencies this season.
The Tigers have blown out teams like Boston College and Syracuse, but then have the home loss to Pittsburgh and almost-loss to NC State. They are one of the best in the country when they put it all together, but that doesn’t happen every week. Will they do so in this rivalry Game against South Carolina?
At the least, it’s not outlandish to say the Gamecocks are underrated as they are headed to a bowl Game. After a rough start to the season, they’ve turned things around, winning Four of their last five with a lot of close contests along the way. As they haven’t lost by more than 14 points all season, it makes this spread seem a bit out of place.
Last year South Carolina hung tight against Clemson, surprisingly moving the ball just fine on this defense. The Tigers got the win, but it wasn’t that convincing, as it was 28-25 early in the Fourth quarter.
The issue with Clemson for most of the year has been the boom-or-bust potential of Deshaun Watson. He’s great at times, throwing for 580 yards against Pitt, but interceptions have come back to haunt him and he once again has 13 on the season. He was better with the ball against Wake Forest, but that doesn’t mean we can trust him now. To go along with that, running back Wayne Gallman has worse numbers this season, although was back to usual with 161 yards at Wake last Game.
If Gallman can put those same numbers in again, the possibility of a Clemson cover is much more likely. South Carolina’s defense can’t be completely disregarded even if they have allowed too many points to weak non-Conference foes. They’ve held Texas A&M and Tennessee in check for the most part.
The other side may be the more important part for South Carolina getting the cover as freshman quarterback Jake Bentley has turned things around for the offense. Bentley is better overall than both Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain and that’s shown up in the win-loss column. If the offensive line can give Bentley enough time, he may be able to do enough by himself to keep this Game from getting out of hand.
Of course, the Gamecocks will still want to get a running Game going between Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner. Dowdle has reached 120-plus rushing yards in three of the last Four contests and if he can get going early, that would help matters.
If Clemson comes out pissed off and ready to roll, they have what it takes to blow South Carolina out. But looking at the numbers throughout the season, the Gamecocks aren’t an easy team to blow out.
The Gamecocks are 7-1 ATS in their last eight vs. the ACC and 4-1 ATS in their last five following an ATS loss. The Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last five Games overall. The Gamecocks are 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings between these schools with the under hitting in five of the last six meetings.
Our Pick – South Carolina +24