Previewing Clemson at South Carolina: Three Keys, What This Game Means, and Prediction

Well, the big game is upon us. This Saturday, the Clemson Tigers will join us at Williams-Brice Stadiumn for the 107th edition of our great rivalry.

Here are a few thoughts on the game.

Three Keys

1. Play with Emotion

As our friends at LOHD like to say, we need "fire in the belly" in this one. The Tigers usually seem to be the more motivated team in this series, despite the fact that we're usually the ones playing for revenge. That has to stop Saturday. We need to come out ready to beat down the Tigers and protect our house.

2. Turnovers

We need to force 'em, and we need to give up fewer ourselves. We haven't forced a turnover since the Alabama game, and Stephen Garcia has been more turnover prone lately than at the beginning of the year. It won't be easy to improve on these numbers against the Tigers, who protect the ball well, have a fine pass rush, and have some ballhawks in the secondary. That's what we need to do to win, though.

3. Special Teams

Most importantly, our coverage units are going to have to play well against the dangerous C. J. Spiller. Spiller is a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on a kickoff or a punt, so we're either going to have to play great coverage or just kick it away from him.

We also need to see a good game from Spencer Lanning. If we win this game, I expect it'll be a close, relatively low-scoring affair, and Lanning's leg could make or break us.

What This Game Means

What doesn't it mean? This game always means a lot, as it's our biggest rivalry and a series where wins have been hard to come by. This year, though, it means even more, as our coaching staff needs a good showing to earn back the confidence of some elements of the fanbase.

Prediction

I expect you'll see us really throw the kitchen sink at the Tigers. Spurrier knows this is an important one, and he'll pull out all the stops. That should lead to some exciting football early on, as we'll try to jump out on top with big plays. I also expect you'll see Spiller or Jacoby Ford make a big play or two early on to keep the Tigers in it. After that, I expect things will slow down a bit, with both teams grinding the ball and vying for field position. In the end, though, the Gamecocks will serve Clemson revenge for the 2007 game's outcome, winning 27-24 on a late Spencer Lanning field goal.

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