▪ Who: Clemson (11-0) at South Carolina (3-8)
▪ When: Noon Saturday
▪ Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
▪ TV: ESPN (Dave LaMont, play-by-play; Ray Bentley, analysis; Jeannine Edwards, sideline)
▪ Radio: 107.5 (Todd Ellis, Tommy Suggs, Langston Moore) and 93.1 (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Michael Palmer)
▪ Satellite radio: Sirius 119/XM 190
▪ Line: Clemson by 17.5
▪ Series history: Clemson leads 66-42-4
▪ Gamecock Walk: South Carolina’s pregame walk through Gamecock Park will take place at approximately 9:45 a.m.
▪ Weather report: Around 50 degrees to start the day, then mostly sunny with a high near 72
▪ Jersey report: USC will wear garnet tops and garnet pants
Saturday’s game will be the final chance USC fans have to see wide receiver Pharoh Cooper wearing garnet and black. Cooper, a junior, will forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Cooper, 5-foot-11, 207 pounds, is the Gamecocks leading receiver this season with 62 catches for 887 yards and seven touchdowns.
Sixteen Gamecock seniors will be playing their last game and will be honored in a Senior Day ceremony at Williams-Brice Stadium: Jerell Adams, Landon Ard, Shon Carson, Cedrick Cooper, Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon Jr., Phillip Dukes, Garrison Gist, T.J. Gurley, Carlton Heard, Shamier Jeffery, Isaiah Johnson, Mike Matulis, Brandon Shell, Will Sport and Brandon Wilds.
The South Carolina and Clemson bands are set to come together for a special performance. The two bands will become one at halftime of Saturday’s game at Williams-Brice Stadium, marking the first combined performance in the history of the football rivalry. The joint show is being done to honor the victims of the Emanuel AME Church shootings in Charleston, as well as flood victims from this fall.
CERTIFIED SC GROWN PALMETTO SERIES
The winner of this week’s game will earn that school another point in the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series between South Carolina and Clemson. Additionally, another point will be awarded to the winner of the month-long Food Drive. The series is \tied at four apiece, with the Gamecocks earning points in volleyball, women’s diving, women’s golf and women’s basketball, and the Tigers coming out on top in men’s and women’s soccer, women’s cross country and men’s golf.
FIVE STORY LINES
1. LOOSE BALLS
When South Carolina beat Clemson five consecutive times, the Gamecocks could always look at turnovers as a big reason why. USC had 15 during the stretch while the Tigers had three. Clemson broke the streak last year when each team had a turnover. The Gamecocks could use a few errant balls sticking to their hands on Saturday.
Deshaun Watson has thrust himself into the conversation as college football’s best player and is trying to win a national title (and keep his vow of never losing to USC). He’s the head of the snake, and if USC could just contain him, or pick off some of the bad passes that he’s been prone to throw, they can cut off the head.
3. LEAKS IN THE LINE
It’s silly to stress running the ball after the Gamecocks couldn’t knock The Citadel’s linemen out of the way, but they have to try. Perry Orth can’t win this game without some help. Stunt, motion, Lorenzo Nunez in the game, anything to tote the ball, grind clock and keep the Tigers’ offense off the field.
4. RETURN TO SENDER
If the Tigers have a weakness, it’s special teams. Their kickoff coverage is abysmal. That could come in very handy for Rashad Fenton or Pharoh Cooper. It’s clear USC cannot consistently score, so getting a gift TD or strong field position from a kick return would be delightful.
5. ONE LAST CHANCE
Sixteen USC seniors (and some juniors) will be recognized Saturday. There is no bowl game. This will be the last football most of them will ever play. Nobody would ever celebrate a 4-8 season – unless that fourth win came against a rival in the most unlikely circumstance possible.
1981: The national championship year that Clemson is trying to mimic by beating South Carolina and finishing a perfect regular season.
1896: The only time in rivalry history that a USC team that finished with a losing record (1-3) beat a Clemson team that finished with a winning record (2-1). It was the first rivalry matchup.
1-4: The Gamecocks’ record against No. 1 teams in their history. The one win was the last time they played a No. 1 team (Alabama, 2010).
1: Games behind Minnesota-Wisconsin that USC-Clemson is on the list of longest uninterrupted college football rivalries. The Gamecocks and Tigers rank second with 107 consecutive meetings, the Badgers and Gophers have 108.
16: Years since Clemson last won a day game in Williams-Brice Stadium. That was the 1999 season, coincidentally the Gamecocks’ last worst season until this one.