The numbers, or at least a lot of them, point toward Clemson.
The Tigers are ranked No. 6 in the country compared to South Carolina’s No. 10. Clemson is No. 9 in the country in scoring, averaging 42.3 points per game, and No. 10 in total offense, averaging 516.6 yards per game. That’s AVERAGING 516 yards per game. That’s impressive no matter what neighborhood you live in. Heck, the Clemson defense is vastly improved, ranked No. 17 in the nation in points allowed (20.2 per game).
South Carolina is not ranked in the top 10 nationally in any significant statistical category. In fact, before a 70-10 thrashing of overmatched Coastal Carolina last week, the Gamecocks had put up a month’s worth of troubling offensive numbers.
And, all of that being said, I can’t imagine why anybody would pick Clemson to win this game. I understand the notion the Tigers could win. There’s no question of that, but expecting it? How can you expect Clemson to win Saturday night in Williams-Brice Stadium against a healthy Connor Shaw when it couldn’t win on its home field last year against Dylan Thompson?
For me, the Tigers have the look and feel of the Georgia teams of the 1990s and 2000s that just couldn’t beat Florida regardless of the circumstances. After watching that happen so many times in a row, I vowed not to pick the Bulldogs until they proved they could actually beat the Gators. Clemson is now officially in “Prove It” mode.
Larry Williams, who covers Clemson for TigersIllustrated.com and is an old friend of mine, described it perfectly recently I think. Williams equated the Clemson offense to a professional golfer who plays great on Thursday and Friday when the pace on the course is fast and everything is rolling right along, but can’t maintain it on Sunday when things don’t follow a smooth pattern.
South Carolina has thrived the last four seasons on providing as many roadblocks as possible for the Tigers offense, and it will do it again on Saturday. South Carolina 30, Clemson 28