The best weekend of the college football season is here, which means another edition of The Palmetto Bowl. The #2 ranked Clemson Tigers host unranked South Carolina this weekend, and are looking to win their fifth straight in the series. The Tigers are 11-0 and haven’t had a competitive game since they played Syracuse in September. The Gamecocks sit at 6-4 coming off a blowout victory of Tennessee Chattanooga at home. The stakes are high as always, with Clemson needing to win to stay comfortably in the top 4 of the playoff rankings. The Gamecocks are still lacking a signature win under Will Muschamp and this would certainly be that.
South Carolina vs. Clemson is one of the oldest rivalries in college football dating back to 1896. Clemson holds a commanding 69-42-4 all time lead over the Gamecocks and a less commanding 11-7 lead since 2000. During the aforementioned 4 game winning streak, The Tigers are winning by an average of nearly 24 points per game. Before this streak, Carolina had won 5 in a row, but tables have turned since Steve Spurrier left the program.
The home team is 5th nationally in offensive points per game at 44.4 and 6th in yards per game at 519.4 according to teamrankings.com. Their defense has been equally impressive, giving up 12.6 points and 263.5 yards per game, both good for 2nd in the country. They trail only Alabama in scoring margin, beating teams on average by almost 32 per game. The Gamecocks-not so much. They rank 36th, averaging 31 points per game, and just 56th overall in yards, averaging a little over 411 per game. Defensively, it’s even worse, ranking a measly 71st and giving up 28.7 points per game. They also give up 421.8 yards per game which is good for 80th nationally. These numbers are disconcerting if you’re a Gamecock like I am.
Against The Spread
Currently at Bovada, Clemson is -26 and the over/under is set at 58. That is tied with 2016 as the highest point spread in the history of this rivalry, when the Tigers covered easily with a 56-7 victory. South Carolina is 6-4 overall against the number this year and 3-2 as an underdog. Clemson is 6-5 against the spread and has been favored in all of their games. South Carolina games have gone over the total 6 of 10 times, while Clemson has gone over in just 5 of their 11 games. I’d be slightly worried about a backdoor cover taking Clemson at -26 for the game, so if you can find -14 or 14.5 for the first half that should be free money. The game should soar over the total with Clemson likely to score 45+ themselves.
This Could Get Ugly
Gamecock fans always want to believe there’s a chance, but when the talent gap is this wide it’s very difficult to imagine them even keeping this game close. Clemson is a team with nine five-stars and 37 four-stars. The disparity in talent is something I don’t see the Gamecocks being able to overcome at this point. Hopefully next year, when I look up the season stats, I won’t be quite so depressed, but this year the Tigers prevail again 54-10.
Let me know your predictions or thoughts on the game on Twitter @jacksonfields15