Clemson is thought of as a lock to reach the College Football Playoff, but there’s a chance it loses its next two Games. South Carolina may be one of the most underrated teams in the country, quietly sitting with eight wins and a second place finish in the SEC East. Still, the Tigers were -14 point road favorites as of Monday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
This spread shows close to no faith in South Carolina. Part of that is because it has played an easy SEC Schedule with losses to Kentucky and Texas A&M and the other by 14 points to Georgia. That Georgia loss happens to be their biggest one of the season and the spread for this Game. There’s a decent chance that this matchup plays out exactly how the Georgia Game did, a 24-10 win for the Bulldogs.
The biggest thing for the Gamecocks in this Game will be to actually move the ball, something this offense hasn’t done at a consistent rate all season. From the 10 points against Georgia, to scoring 15 against Tennessee and 13 against Kentucky, it’s been a problem. Now against Clemson, which has one of the best defensive lines in the country, it’s going to be a problem again.
When South Carolina struggles to run the ball, that’s when the offense struggles. Jake Bentley hasn’t looked great against his toughest opponents and has just 15 touchdowns to nine interceptions on the season. against a Clemson front allowing less than 120 rushing yards per Game, the Gamecocks could be in trouble. As a team, they average a mediocre 4.1 yards per carry (sacks included) with A.J. Turner and Ty’Son Williams often combining for 100 yards in wins. In losses, that’s far from the case, which means Bentley will be asked to do everything himself against this defense.
The goal will be to Scorea couple touchdowns because that could be enough to get the cover. Clemson’s offense isn’t nearly as good as it was a year ago when it won 56-7 in this Game. The Tigers may only have one loss, but they aren’t blowing out many teams. Prior to the 31-14 win against Florida State, Clemson had won its last three ACC Games by 14 points. That seems to be a common trend with this team and this has all the makings of another similar showing.
South Carolina has lived by its defense this season, allowing just under 20 points per Game and that’ll need to show up here. The Tigers are a run-first team with three guys having rushed for 600 yards. Quarterback Kelly Bryant is part of that bunch with speedsters Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster doing the rest. The Gamecocks allow 3.9 yards per carry and holding Clemson to that number will be important. Bryant isn’t a quarterback that’s going to open up the Game with his arm as seen in his 10 passing touchdowns. If the ground Game can be held in check, that could be enough to keep this one within two scores.
The Tigers have covered in their last seven non-Conference Games, but are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road Games vs. a team with a winning home record. The Gamecocks are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 against the ACC. In this meeting, South Carolina has covered in the last five at home, although the favorite is 5-2 ATS in the last seven.
Our Pick – SC +13.5