Clemson at South Carolina Preview: Three Keys, What It Means, Prediction

This post concludes our series previewing the Clemson game.

Three Keys to Victory

Get pressure on Tajh Boyd without blitzing. Our defensive success has started up front all season long. When our defensive line pressures the QB, we generally dominate defensively. When it doesn't, we struggle to slow down opposing passing games. Similarly, the key to slowing down Clemson's potentially explosive attack is to get to Boyd early and often; while very accurate when given time to throw, Boyd becomes ineffective and careless with the ball when pressured.

Don't Allow Clemson to Change the Game on Special Teams. The Gamecocks' special teams units have struggled all year long, while Clemson has used special teams--particularly the return capabilities of all-world WR / KR Sammy Watkins--to turn things in its favor. The Gamecocks, who appear to have the advantage in most areas coming into this game, can't let Clemson negate those advantages by giving up scores / field position in the kicking game.

Want It More. With no conference championship to play for, USC should view this game as its Super Bowl. On the other side, Clemson has seemed to play softer and softer over the last few weeks. One gets the sense that Carolina is the team coming into this game with more to play for and a harder nose about it. That could be one of the difference-makers.

Keep reading after the jump.

What It Means

As said, the Gamecocks won't be playing for a conference title this year, so winning the state title is the next priority in line. There are some other milestones at stake, too. This is Carolina's chance to finally get back to that elusive ten wins, and to make it possible to break the school record with eleven if we win the bowl. A win would also be the first three-peat against CU since the Nixon era and would lend credence to the idea that we've finally made a move to take over this rivalry.

Prediction

I think we have the talent advantages necessary to win this one with some comfort. However, I also fear that our offense isn't quite ready to take the next step, as well as that we'll find a way to give Clemson a score they shouldn't have gotten. I think, though, that we win this game in a close one. 28-23 'Cocks.

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