Clemson at South Carolina

The Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks hate each other. This is one of the nastiest rivalries that no one knows about, and the hate even extends down onto the field. During the last decade, we have seen a lot out of this rivalry. There have been close games and blowouts. There was a massive brawl that took away the bowl hopes of both teams. Now, the Tigers and Cocks are both ranked in the top-20. Unfortunately for Clemson, though, this game comes with many more question marks than it does certainties.

The Tigers looked horrible last week in Raleigh, losing to N.C. State in a game that wasn’t close. But you need to look a little further and see if that was just a mirage. Clemson had locked up its division and had literally nothing to play for at State. The Tigers were without left tackle Phillip Price and all-world WR Sammy Watkins. They looked emotionally and mentally disinterested. This falls on the coaching staff, but one has to think that Swinney and company will have the team better prepared for Saturday. The Tigers have lost two straight to the Gamecocks and no coach has lost three in a row to them since Frank Howard did it in the 1960s.

The Tigers are catching four points here and the public has been steadily pounding South Carolina. In this series, Clemson has been the dominant power over time. They have won well in Columbia, taking three of the last four and five of the last seven. Can they pick it up and return to early season form? One big question is whether Clemson can stop the zone read of South Carolina. The Gamecocks run with the quarterback an awful lot and Clemson has had trouble with this in the past. South Carolina, on the other hand, has struggled against the two good offenses that it faced. Clemson has as many weapons as UGA and Arkansas, so it hopes to see similar success in moving the football through the air. Look for the Tigers to keep this one close as you make your college football picks this weekend.