Who: #6 Clemson Tigers (10-1) at #10 South Carolina Gamecocks (9-2)
When: Saturday, November 30th at 7:00 P.M. EST (ESPN2)
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC
Last Week: Clemson downed the Citadel 52-6; South Carolina thumped Coastal Carolina 70-10
A BCS at-large bid will likely be on the line for Clemson as the sixth-ranked Tigers head into Columbia to face in-state rival South Carolina. The match-up will be one of two this week featuring top 10 teams as both schools will be gunning for their fifth straight victory.
The quarterback match-up will be one to watch as Clemson senior Tajh Boyd and South Carolina senior Connor Shaw will each look to deliver his team a victory. Two weeks ago, Boyd broke Philip Rivers’ ACC record for career touchdown passes while Shaw is arguably the most accomplished quarterback in the history of Gamecock football.
Boyd certainly has a number of weapons at his disposal including junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins leads the ACC with 1,144 yards receiving and 10 touchdown receptions. Fellow receiver Martavis Bryant is also in the midst of an outstanding season for the Tigers.
For Clemson to be successful on offense, it must find a way to slow down the most feared pass-rusher in the country in South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has had a down year due to being double-teamed on virtually every play, but in this game a season ago, Clowney got to Boyd for 4.5 sacks in a South Carolina victory.
While Clowney is certainly the headliner at the defensive end position, Clemson has a talented end of its own in junior Vic Beasley. Beasley leads Clemson with 10 sacks on the season and will look to get after Shaw and the South Carolina offensive attack.
The biggest weapon for Shaw and the South Carolina offense will be running back Mike Davis. With 1,112 yards on the ground, Davis ranks second in the SEC behind only Auburn’s Tre Mason. Davis also leads the Gamecocks with 10 rushing touchdowns on the season.
While Clemson would likely claim a BCS at-large spot with a victory on Saturday, South Carolina still has life for an automatic bid. The Gamecocks would face the winner of Saturday’s contest between Alabama and Auburn in the SEC Championship should Missouri fall at home to Texas A&M. If Missouri were to win against the Aggies, it is possible that South Carolina could receive an at-large bid into the BCS with a victory over the Tigers on Saturday.
In recent years, South Carolina has had the upper-hand in the battle for the Palmetto State. The Gamecocks have won four in a row in the series including a 27-17 victory at Clemson a season ago. The Tigers last won in Columbia in 2007.
Prediction: Clemson 27, South Carolina 24
Other Games Around the ACC
Friday, November 29th
Miami at Pittsburgh – 3:30 P.M. EST (ABC)
Miami snapped a three-game skid last week against Virginia while Pittsburgh won at Syracuse to become bowl-eligible. The Hurricanes are still alive in the Coastal division race, but must win at Heinz Field on Friday. Stephen Morris passed for a pair of touchdowns last week while the Miami defense made up for a poor statistical day with a pair of defensive scores. Friday’s game will be the first between the Hurricanes and Panthers since 2010.
Prediction: Miami 36, Pittsburgh 31
Saturday, November 30th
#2 Florida State at Florida – 12:00 P.M. EST (ESPN)
Florida State scored a school-record 80 points in last week’s win over Idaho while Florida fell at home to Georgia Southern assuring the Gators’ first losing season in more than three decades. FSU redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown for better than 500 yards combined and six touchdowns in the last two weeks in just over four quarters of action. Florida State has scored at least 41 points in every game this season, but Florida has yet to give up more than 36.
Prediction: Florida State 35, Florida 16
#24 Duke at North Carolina – 12:00 P.M. EST (ESPN2)
A victory for Duke on Saturday would be its eighth straight and would clinch an appearance in the ACC Championship game for the first time. North Carolina however, comes in riding a five-game winning streak which includes an 80-20 thumping of Old Dominion a week ago. Marquise Williams has played well at the quarterback position for the Tar Heels, but will be facing an opportunistic Duke defense.
Prediction: Duke 28, North Carolina 26
Wake Forest at Vanderbilt – 12:20 P.M. EST (SEC Network)
Wake Forest heads to Nashville as losers of four straight. Vanderbilt has clinched a second straight winning season thanks largely to the play of running back Jerron Seymour and his 13 rushing touchdowns. Vandy has won the last two in the series.
Prediction: Wake Forest 6, Vanderbilt 23
Maryland at N.C. State – 12:30 P.M. EST (ACC Network)
N.C. State will have one last chance to win a game in conference play against a Maryland team that can cement its first winning season since 2010 with a victory. Quarterback C.J. Brown will look to make plays with his arm and his legs for the Terrapins on Saturday. Brown has passed and rushed for nine touchdowns each this season.
Prediction: Maryland 24, N.C. State 14
Georgia at Georgia Tech – 3:30 P.M. EST (ABC)
Georgia has won 11 of the last 12 against the Yellow Jackets, but will be without starting quarterback Aaron Murray on Saturday. Georgia Tech has won four of its last five games and can still reach Charlotte with losses by Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech. Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack ranks fifth nationally in rushing.
Prediction: Georgia 20, Georgia Tech 31
Boston College at Syracuse – 3:30 P.M. EST (RSN)
Boston College senior running back Andre Williams has combined to rush for more than 600 yards over the last two weeks and leads the country by a wide margin with 2,073 yards on the ground. The Eagles could quadruple their win total from a season ago with a victory in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse is coming off of a heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh at home and must beat Boston College to become bowl-eligible.
Prediction: Boston College 20, Syracuse 21
Virginia Tech at Virginia – 3:30 P.M. EST (ESPNU)
With a win and a Duke loss, Virginia Tech will represent the Coastal division in the ACC Championship. The Hokies travel to face rival Virginia in Charlottesville. Virginia is one of two ACC teams without a win in conference. The Cavaliers have lost nine straight to their in-state rivals.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Virginia 7