It’s such a weird game to pick.
Clemson’s chance to win is directly tied to Deshaun Watson. If he plays – which if he does, it seems clear he won’t be close to 100 percent – the Tigers look much better. Even a 50 percent Watson is better than a 100 percent Cole Stoudt. Clemson just doesn’t look confident with Stoudt back there, everybody pressing and trying to play perfect. With Watson’s abilities to make something out of nothing, the others don’t have to play quite as apprehensively.
South Carolina’s defense has played two pretty good games against two pretty lousy offenses, and if Stoudt has to play the majority of the game, that immediately makes the Gamecocks’ D feel like 11 Jadeveon Clowneys to 11 Tajh Boyds. That confidence would be huge, but there’s simply no telling until the Tigers set up for their first possession.
What I think the game will come down to, quarterbacks aside, is the feeling in the fourth quarter. I don’t think either team is equipped to be well ahead by the fourth (and USC wouldn’t be confident even if it was two touchdowns ahead), and that will leave it to players who are tired, beaten up and thinking about what a win or loss would mean.
The Tigers know they can win, but will some veterans be thinking of the many times the past two or three years where they could have won and didn’t? All those turnovers and allowance of big plays that should have been contained and weren’t?
USC won’t have such problems. Everything’s come up Gamecock during the past five years, and the Gamecocks now expect to win this game. I can’t say if it will be by a miracle catch or made (or missed) field goal or a game-clinching interception, but the streak will live on.
SOUTH CAROLINA 31, CLEMSON 28