Six reasons South Carolina will extend its winning streak against rival Clemson to six games:
1. SEC VS. ACC
All things being equal, you must go with the SEC team against an ACC opponent.
All things do appear about equal in Saturday’s game. The four-point betting line usually gives three points to the home team. So, while Clemson really is a slight favorite, the game is, essentially, considered a toss-up.
The SEC has been producing the best football in the country for a long time. The ACC has been producing mediocre football for a long time.
When it comes to head-to-head competition, the SEC dominates. According to mcubed.net, the SEC has an all-time record of 288-139-10 against ACC opponents. Since 2000, the SEC is 61-44 against the ACC, which last had a winning record against the SEC in 2003 (5-4).
2. SPURRIER OFFENSE
Forget that Clemson leads the nation in total defense, allowing 252 yards per game. Give me a well-charged Steve Spurrier offense every time, no matter the defense it faces.
This is the highest-powered offense in Spurrier’s 10 seasons at USC, rolling up 35 points and 461 yards per game.
The biggest concern for USC’s offense against Clemson’s defense is the Tigers’ pass rush. Spurrier will devise a plan to negate that rush. Look for the Gamecocks to establish a running game, whether it be the conventional route or with Pharoh Cooper, Mike Davis or Brandon Wilds operating out of the wildcat formation.
When it comes time to pass, quarterback Dylan Thompson will rely on quick releases and screen passes to keep Clemson’s defense on its heels and its linemen out of USC’s backfield.
3. SPURRIER VS. SWINNEY
On one sideline is a Hall of Fame coach considered one of the best in-game leaders in the history of the game. On the other is a budding star.
Again, all things being equal, take the veteran.
4. CLEMSON IS FAVORED AT HOME
This is the third time since 2010 that Clemson enters the game as the favorite to defeat USC in Death Valley.
The Tigers were favored by one point in 2010 at Clemson. USC won 31-14. The Tigers were favored by three points in 2012 at Clemson. USC won 27-17.
The Tigers are favored Saturday.
5. IT IS IN CLEMSON’S HEADS
No longer is it about Clemson physically being able to match USC on the field. The streak has become a huge mental obstacle for Clemson.
Look no farther than Swinney’s offseason attempt to make the game bigger than it already is as indication that the streak is playing with Clemson’s minds.
Swinney had countdown clocks to the game installed in locker rooms and meeting rooms. It is a gimmick, and a not very good one.
Further proof that Clemson’s mental state has been shaken over the past five seasons came this past Saturday when former quarterback Tajh Boyd was interviewed following the Tigers’ victory against Georgia State.
Boyd was asked what the difference was in USC defeating Clemson all three seasons in which he was a starter. Boyd responded by simply pointing a finger to his head.
6. PRESSURE ON CLEMSON
All of the pressure on Saturday is squarely on Clemson to end the streak. USC, with nothing else at stake this season, can just show up and play.
There is every reason to believe USC will make it six in a row.