When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Clemson’s Memorial Stadium
Radio: 107.5 FM
Line: Clemson by 24
Three Story Lines
1. Rivals to the end: This game has come in all shape and sizes, all combinations of quality or lack thereof on either side. But history and a particular dynamic are always there. Weird things happen in rivalry games, and this could be another odd chapter.
2. Still in control: The Tigers can still take a playoff spot with wins against the Gamecocks and Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. If they slip up, an ACC title only gives them a case, putting them at the mercy of the playoff committee. The Gamecocks would love to play that spoiler.
3. Signature shot: To this point, the best win in Will Muschamp’s first season in Columbia was an upset of a Tennessee team that will close the regular season with eight or nine wins. If the Gamecocks shock the Tigers, the first season of a new era is capped with a bang, and Muschamp becomes the first Gamecocks coach to beat Clemson on the first go since Brad Scott in 1994.
Three Players to Watch
1. Quarterback Deshaun Watson hasn’t been the consistent force he was a season ago, but he’s still pretty darn good. He’s thrown for 3,279 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 147.8 rating, and run for 425 yards and four scores.
2. Running back Wayne Gallman returned to the land of the living with 161 yards and two touchdowns on only 22 carries against Wake Forest. That season-high puts him at 831 yards and 13 scores in a year where he’s averaged more than five yards a carry six times in 11 games.
3. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is still out there messing up offenses and doing things a freshman isn’t supposed to do. He’s fourth on the team with 66 tackles as an interior lineman, along with 6 1/2 tackles for loss, four sacks, two blocked kicks and 19 quarterback hurries.
▪ Clemson’s offense hasn’t been the lethal attack it was a year ago, mostly because the consistency doesn’t seem to be there. The team that cut through Louisville’s strong defense was utterly hit-and-miss against a Pitt team that gives up big plays in bunches.
▪ That extends to Deshaun Watson. Last year, he’d have lapses but made up for them with plays that were just eye popping. The former plays have increased, while the latter have dropped a little.
▪ The Tigers almost always play three wide receivers and one tight end, mostly Jordan Leggett, who is a top-flight pass catcher and does a solid job in the run game.
▪ So. Many. Receivers. Most teams would kill for two of Deon Cain, Artavis Scott, Mike Williams and Ray-Ray McCloud. Williams it the best of the group as a jump ball monster.
▪ Clemson’s defense is usually built on tight coverage that forces an offense to try to beat it deep, but the Tigers have been quite good at preventing big plays through the air.
▪ The Tigers don’t mind leaving linebacker Dorian O’Daniel out against three-receiver sets to cover players in the slot. Korrin Wiggins has also handled some nickel work.
▪ Clemson will deploy a 3-3-5 package on third downs.