If South Carolina wants to play spoiler for Clemson’s season – and it very much does according to several Gamecocks – it’s probably going to come down to this statistic: turnover margin.
South Carolina is eighth in the nation in turnover margin at plus-10 for the season. Clemson is 75th in the nation in turnover margin at minus-1. This is a statistic is something that can swing wildly from week-to-week, but the Gamecocks are betting that the extra pressure on the Tigers could play in their favor Saturday.
“They need this game. We are just going to fly around and play ball,” Gamecocks wide receiver Deebo Samuel said.
Clemson, a 23.5-point favorite over the Gamecocks, must win Saturday and again in the ACC Championship Game to preserve its place in the CFB Playoff.
“We have a chance to ruin that and that would be huge for us,” Gamecocks tight end Hayden Hurst said.
South Carolina has clinched bowl eligibility.
“They are the big-time team right now,” USC senior safety Chris Moody said. “We just have to come out and play ball.”
The Gamecocks have intercepted 13 passes this year, which ranks No. 20 in the country. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown 13 interceptions, the second-most in the country among the FBS’ top 100 passers.
In the regular run of play, the Tigers have vast statistical advantages over South Carolina. Clemson’s offense and defense are ranked among the top 20 in the FBS, while the Gamecocks offense is ranked 114th in the nation and their defense ranks 50th in the nation.
Those advantages will be too tough to overcome unless the Gamecocks can win the turnover battle decisively. They may be too hard to overcome even then.
CLEMSON 31, SOUTH CAROLINA 24