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Our Digital Season: Week 13 — South Carolina at Clemson

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It's the DigiPalmetto Bowl!

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back! It's the final regular season ODS of the year, pitting the DigiCocks against the rival DigiTigers. Our simulation's record stands at...I have no clue. Someone can go look it up. But ODS has been a bit unreliable; I hold it to a high standard given that it did, once, predict a double overtime victory of Missouri if you could believe it! Yep, it happened. Wow, right!?

Last week, ODS did predict the comfortable South Carolina win, including a couple astonishing similarities:

  • The second quarter featured a turnover flurry that saw South Alabama throw three interceptions and Dylan Thompson throw 1. HAPPENED.
  • The IRL Jags gained 289 yards. The ODS Jags gained 275 yards.

But ODS doesn't rest on its laurels, not even when it TOTALLY CALLED that double OT victory of Missouri. We move ahead to a rivalry matchup that pits the DigiCocks against its THIRD DigiTigers squad of the season. This time: it's DigiClemson.

By the way, I'm starting Watson since we all know he gon' play. For what it's worth, the rostersmiths have him rated slightly below Cole Stoudt. Go ahead, laugh it out.

Clemson wins the toss, and will defer. Opening kickoff is a touchback. HERE WE GO.

1st Quarter, or DONT WORRY WE HAVE THEM RIGHT WHERE WE WANT THEM

Ball at the SC 25. Dylan hits Pharoh for a gain of 6. I formation. He takes his time and finds Connor McLaurin (?) in the flat. It's a 1 yard loss. 3rd and 5. Dylan with time—he finds Busta down the middle for a 16 yard gain! Ball at the 45 now. Offset I. Play action, and Dylan throws it—picked off. Returned to the SC 35.

Play action, and its Watson to Artavis Scott, who carries Kadetrix Marcus into the endzone.

Just like that, it's 7-0, DigiTigers.

Kick brought out to the 20. Bubble screen to Byrd gains a yard. Clemson brings the house on 2nd, and Dylan manages to hit Mike Davis in the flat for a gain of 5. Again it's to Davis, but he's brought down inches from the line to gain. DigiSpurrier will elect to punt. Humphries returns it 9 yards to the Clemson 39.

Bubble screen on 1st—it's to Scott again, and he gains 12. Watson then hits Cooper for 8. Then the QB keeper gains 6. It's 1st and 10 on the SC 36. Watson tries to scramble, but Gerald Dixon wraps him up for the sack. Thrown away on 2nd, and it's 3rd and long. Pop quiz time, everyone: what's South Carolina's defense love to do on 3rd and long? The answer is 38 yard touchdown strike to Germone Hopper.

14-0, Tigers.

Carson brings the kick out to the 20, and let's add a clipping penalty—so the digiCocks swill start at the 10. Bubble screen to Jones gains 1. I formation. Delayed give to Davis gains 3. Dylan finds Busta near the sideline, and he bashes his way ahead for 6 and the first down. Halfback draw gains 5 for Davis. Dylan hits Damiere on the sidline, and his momentum brings him out after 3. 3rd and 2—Dylan drops back, and his plastered. Sack, punt. Clemson takes over near midfield.

1st and 10 at the Clemson 45. Watson scrambles for 3. Hits Cooper on the drag route and gains 11. Gallman gains nothing on 1st, and Watson gains 2 on the keeper. 3rd and 8—Watson goes the "lemme throw a bomb on 3rd and long" route again, but this time it's broken up. Clemson will attempt a 56 yard field goal—this game's AI, y'all. No good.

1st and 10 and Dylan hits Shaq Roland for a gain of 13. SC's in enemy territory for the first time today. Then it's Dylan to Byrd for 12. Dylan with time, but has to settle for a paltry 3 yard completion to Jerrell Adams. He then gains 9 on the keeper—1st down, and the end of the 1st quarter.

2nd Quarter, or BETTER BUT STILL NOT SO GOOD

Ball at the Clemson 24. I formation. Davis gains 3 on the dive. But he loses all 3 on the same play, so it's 3rd and 10. 5 wide, Dylan with time—and it's complete to Pharoh down the sideline for the touchdown!

14-7, Clemson.

Touchback, so Clemson starts at the 25. Quick 8 yard completion to Davidson. Speed option, and Gallman breaks loose. It's a 42 yard gain, and Clemson is on the South Carolina 25. Watson is pressured and throws it away on 1st. Give to Gallman gains 3, so it's 3rd and 7. It's a pass to Copper for a gain of 8, and it's 1st and 10 inside the 15. Once again to  Cooper—Watson's hitting him underneath regularly. 2nd and 2, and Gallman loses 4 as Roberts closes in for the tackle. And yet again, it's Watson to Cooper—gain of 9 and knocked out at the 2. 1st down and goal, and CJ Davidson will take it in for 6.

21-7, Clemson.

Carson takes it out to the 27. Dylan with time, and hits Byrd for a gain of 5. Then it's to Jones for 10. Dylan with time, and he finds Jones again for 9 more. And oh boy—the "digiQB throws bubble screen without looking or thinking" bug bites for the first time in weeks. Picked off, and Clemson will take over at the SC 49.

Gallman runs for 9. Now Clemson does the dumb bubble screen, but they only lose 3 as opposed to getting picked off. 3rd and 3, South Carolina brings the house—and it's another sack for Gerald Dixon! The defense forces the 3 and out, and Clemson will punt—out of bounds at the 10.

1st and 10—Dylan hits Anderson behind the line, and it's a loss of 1. 5 wide on 2nd. Dylan throws to the sideline and TJ Green leaps in front of it but drops a surefire pick 6. 3rd and 11, and Dylan hits Cooper for 10. 4th and 1, and South Carolina will punt. It's returned to the the Clemson 39. By the way, Nick Jones will miss the rest of the game with back spasms.

1st and 10. Watson gives it to Humphries on the sweep, but he gains just 2. Then Gallman gains some 40 yards up the gut. 1st and 10 at the 13. Watson is sacked on 1st, then Gallman gains 5—he's over 100 now. 3rd and 7, and Gallman gets it on a delay. No gain, so Clemson will kick the field goal. Good.

24-7, Tigers. South Carolina will have 45 seconds to score, if they so choose.

Kick returned to the 27. Handoff gains nothing—it would seem digiSpurrier's ready for halftime. Indeed, the Cocks will run the clock down before snapping it (why not just kneel it?) and Davis will lose 3 on the carry.

FIRST HALF ANALYSIS

A disastrous first half for South Carolina sees the worst case scenario play out. Defense is largely helpless, allowing 242 yards (107 rushing, 135 passing). The offense has amassed just 136. Dylan Thompson has 2 interceptions and South Carolina has no running game (17 yards on 9 attempts). Clemson's got it to start the 2nd half.

3rd Quarter, or THINGS GET INTERESTING

Touchback. Play action, and Watson will ultimately scramble for 6. On 2nd down, Watson is smashed Darius English and coughs it up—recovered by Clemson. But on the next play, Watson tries to go deep and is picked off by IRL Clemson killer Brison Williams. It equates to an armpunt, but an important stop for the South Carolina D out of the gates.

1st and 10 at the South Carolina 42. Zone read give to Mike Davis gains 4. Dylan with all kinds of time, and throws his best ball of the day, hitting Roland down the seam for 34. He's down inside the 20. Dylan to Pharoh on the slant, and it gains 11. 1st and goal. Dylan to Damiere on the slant gains 6—down at the 2. I formation. Give to Connor McLaurin—hey NCAA 2014, we don't run this play, ever—and he gains nada. Ace backfield, Dylan drops back, and hits Byrd on the slant—touchdown!

24-14, Clemson.

Touchback. Watson hits Humphries for 14, then scrambles for 13 more. Like that, the ball's in SC territory. Give to Gallman gains 7. Then 5 more for Gallman—1st and 10 at the 36. Watson tries to scramble, but falls right into the arms of Darius English. It's his 2nd sack in as many drives, and it's now 2nd and 15. The screen pass is set up, and Al Harris Jr. gets in to break it up. 3rd and 15. Pass to Hopper gains 8, so Clemson will kick the 50 yarder. It splits the uprights.

27-14, Clemson.

Kickoff return goes to the 20. Lon gfield for Carolina. Mike Davis continues to go pretty much nowhere, gaining none on a 1st down run. Then, Dylan lobs it to Davis for 3. 5 wide on 3rd down. Dylan hits Brent for 10, and the chains will move. Hits Roland for 8, and Roland is down—he'll miss the rest of the game. Dylan gains 5 on the keeper, 1st down. Incomplete on 1st. 5 wide on 2nd, and Dylan hits Cooper for 14. Dylan, by the way, is 25/29 for 208 yards. Brandon Wilds gains 2 on 1st. Halfback screen pass to Davis works like a dream, and he picks up 28. 1st and 10 at the CU 11 yard line. It's another screen, this time to Wilds—and again it works! Wilds will score.

27-21, South Carolina. This game is officially interesting.

1st and 10 from the 25 for Clemson. Gallman gains 6 around the edge, but Watson will lose 4 on the ensuing keeper. 3rd and 8, and Clemson comes out 5 wide—Watson will find Williams for 16. A huge 3rd down conversion foer the Tigers. And then it's Priester who gains 14 on the reception. Empty backfield again for Watson, who finds Priester for 5 more. Watson is settling in, it would seem. Priester again, for just 2. And the quarter will end.

4th Quarter, or DYLAN ACHIEVES TAJHVANA

It's a speed option, and Watson will keep it for a gain of 10. 1st and 10 at the SC 21. Again it's to Priester for 6. This time it's to Hopper for 14. It's now 1st and goal at the 6. The give to Gallman, and he powers ahead for the score. Clemson will go for 2 to extend it to a full 14 point lead—and they get it.

35-21, Clemson. Can SC score 14 points in the remaining 6:27?

Touchback. Dylan gains 9 on the keeper. Then it's to Byrd for 14. I formation on 1st down. The delayed give to Davis gains 9—by far his longest rush of the day. Dylan finds Byrd on the cross route for 11 yards. Dylan's pass to Davis his dropped, and it's just his 5th incompletion of the day. It's Shamier Jeffery with the 6 yard reception on 2nd. Dylan will keep it on 3rd, and gain 11! 1st and 10 at the Clemson 16. Davis gains 6. He's got 31 yards on 11 carries. Thompson drops back, and gets swallowed up—sacked for a loss of 9. 3rd and 13. Dylan's got a man in the corner—but it's slightly underthrown and intercepted, and Clemson will take over with just 4 minutes left.

Ball on the 15. Watson gains 3 on 1st. Gallman gains 6, and it's 3rd and 1. Clemson running hurry-up, for some reason. Watson keeps it and gains, ooh boy, just enough. 1st and 10. Gallman runs for 4. He's got 135. Carolina not yet using timeouts. Gallman gains 2 more, and South Carolina will use its first timeout. Curiously Clemson will throw on 3rd down—and even more curiously, Watson throws it away after about 2 seconds. So the clock stops, and they'll punt. Cooper returns it 10 yards.

South Carolina has it at the Clemson 33. 5 wide. Dylan to Shamier Jeffery, and he makes a diving grab for 29! Again 5 wide, and again to Jeffery, this time for 15! Ball at the Clemson 21. Thompson's pass is incomplete—meant for Jeffery again. Dylan with time, and he airs it out to the endzone—and, alas, it's picked again.

1st and 10 at the 20. Gallman gains 6—timeout. Gains 1 on 2nd, and South Carolina uses its final timeout. Then Watson drops back, and breaks to scramble—but is sacked by Gerald Dixon for the 3rd time. So South Carolina will get at least one more shot to get a quick score and an onside kick. But, they'll have about 30 seconds with which to do it. Punt is taken by Cooper to the 44.

1st and 10 with :32 remaining. Um—handoff? I guess the digiCocks have given in. But, then they spike it. So it's 3rd and 8. Dylan is sacked, and that should do it. Dylan does connect with Brent for a 44 yard bomb as time expires. Take that momentum into next year's game?

Final Score: 35-21, Clemson.

South Carolina goes 2/4 in the redzone, loses by 14. Some stats are easier to understand than others.

SC STAT CU
365 PASS YDS 213
48 RUSH YDS 168
413 TOTAL YDS 381
6/11 (1/1 4DC) 3RD DOWN CONV 6/13
4 TURNOVERS 1
55% TOP 45%
D. Thompson: 33-41, 365 YDS, 3 TD, 4 INT THO OFFENSIVE POTG W. Gallman: 17 CAR, 145 YDS, 1 TD
G. Dixon: 6 TACK, 3 SACK DEFENSIVE POTG T. Steward: 4 TACK, 1 TFL, 1 INT

As you see, South Carolina outgained Clemson, held the ball longer, and was more efficient on 3rd downs. What's the lesson here? Turnovers neutralize advantages! Ask Tajh Boyd. In fact, DigiDylan's performance was strangely reminiscent of Tajh's 2014 outing. Late picks squelched a potential comeback. The two teams' YPP was almost identical (6.6 SC, 6.5 CU) but, yeah, 4 picks means a lot of those yards were for naught. Worth noting that SC's defense nutted up in the second half (allowed less than 150 yards) but again, 4 picks.

Will the above play out tomorrow? It's plausible. If Clemson's big, bad front 7 can stuff the run as it did in ODS, Dylan could be forced to make some deep throws. We know he's capable of making them—but we also know he's capable of throwing the odd pick. But protect the rock, boys, and you may just come away with the win. I guess you could say that about any game...BUT ANYWAY!

See you in a month or so for our Our Digital Late December Bowl Game!