THE SEASON ENDING showdown between South Carolina and Clemson is shaping up to feature the Gamecocks’ clicking offense against the Tigers’ stingy defense.
The Gamecocks rolled up 500 yards at Kentucky, 548 against Furman and 535 at Auburn. It marks the first time USC has topped 500 yards of offense in three consecutive games since Brad Scott’s club did the same against Kent State, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt in 1995.
The only other time that has happened – at least since records were tracked beginning in 1962 – was 1987, when Joe Morrison’s club pulled the hat track against Virginia Tech, Virginia and East Carolina.
Only four times in Spurrier’s coaching career have his teams put together streaks of four or more games with 500 or more yards. His 1989 Duke team and 1996 Florida club had streaks of four such games. His 2001 Florida club had a streak of five games.
Spurrier’s best stretch came in 1995, when Florida put up consecutive 500-yard games against Auburn, Georgia, Northern Illinois, USC, Vanderbilt and Florida State.
A couple of more figures are worth noting about this current USC offense. The Gamecocks are on pace to score 472 points, which would surpass the program-record 443 scored a season ago. They also are on pace to accumulate 5,998 yards, which would surpass the program-record 5,880 yards of last season.
As for Clemson’s defense. Wow. Most figured the Tigers to be stout on defense, but nothing like this.
Clemson leads the nation in tackles for loss with 9.8 per game and in third-down conversions, a 23 percent success rate for opponents. The Tigers rank third nationally in defense (269 ypg.), fifth nationally in sacks (3.75 per game), sixth in first downs allowed (13.6 average), sixth in red zone defense (67 percent) and seventh in passing yards allowed (167 ypg.).
In the most important category, scoring defense, Clemson’s ranks 11th nationally at 18.3 points per game. The Tigers also are No. 11 in rushing defense, permitting 101 yards per game.
You might question the competition, but perhaps the most telling statistic about Clemson’s defense is that it has limited six of its eight opponents to their lowest yardage total of the season.
Typical of Clemson’s defense was Saturday’s performance. Syracuse entered the game averaging 406 yards and had not been held to fewer than 260. The Orange managed 170.
Playoffs in home stretch: With six more rounds of my college football playoffs remaining, the field has been whittled to 19 teams.
Those teams include Duke and Florida State of the ACC; Baylor, Kansas State and TCU of the Big 12; Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State of the Big Ten; Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Utah of the Pac-12; Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi and Mississippi State of the SEC; Marshall of Conference USA; and independent Notre Dame.
Odds and ends: Florida State (7-0), Mississippi (7-0) and Marshall (8-0) are the only remaining unbeaten teams. There are no winless clubs. ... At the FCS level, Coastal Carolina (8-0) is with Harvard (6-0), Illinois State (7-0) and North Dakota State (8-0) among unbeaten teams. ... Hard to believe, but USC has not been eliminated from the SEC East race, even with a 2-4 league record. If Georgia or Missouri wins one of its remaining conference games, USC is eliminated. ... With a three-game sweep Saturday, the SEC West owns a 9-1 record against the SEC East.