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Odds: South Carolina two-score underdogs at Clemson

Vegas does not foresee lightning striking twice for the Cocks

Clemson v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Just one week removed from one of the most unexpected victories in Gamecock history, South Carolina looks for its second win against a top-10 squad in two weeks as the team makes the short trek north to face the Clemson Tigers this Saturday at noon.

USC is coming into this matchup hot with a 6-5 record against the spread while donning a 7-4 record overall, which is the program’s first seven-win season (not counting bowl games) since 2018.

Clemson, on the other hand, is 10-1 straight up with a much worse record of 6-5 ATS.

Following a loss to Notre Dame, which also resulted in a drop in public perception of the team, the Tigers have responded well, beating up on Louisville and Miami (both games at home) by 15 and 30 points respectively.

Despite the wins, questions about quarterback play for the team still exist.

Whether you are a believer of Clemson or not, Vegas sure seems to respect them.

The Tigers are favored by 14.5 points over the Gamecocks, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

ESPN’s FPI gives South Carolina a 11.1% chance of getting its eighth victory on the season and its first against Clemson since 2013.

The total is set at 52 points.

Why was the line set at this number?

At first glance, this line feels like a trap.

A Clemson squad that no one seems to have confidence in is slated to beat by 14.5 points the South Carolina team that just beat Tennessee by 25? The South Carolina team that has seven wins with one of the toughest schedules in the country? The South Carolina team that just figured out how to play offense and now has to defend against DJ Uiagalelei and the rest of an underwhelming offense after limiting (to an extent) Hendon Hooker?


Then I started thinking a bit more.

I think anyone can admit Clemson has a chance of winning, at least, and when they do that, they do it by an average of 18.3 points.

Further, the only two teams that they did not beat by at least 14 when playing at home are NC State and Syracuse, who were both ranked at the time of playing.

Basically, Clemson beats up on unranked teams.

Next... can we perhaps admit South Carolina may be a little overhyped?

Just two weeks ago, the Gamecocks failed to score a touchdown on offense en route to a 38-6 thrashing at the Swamp.

And I don’t really know why, but USC just can’t play during the day, going 0-4 and losing by an average of 25 points when the game does not take place at 7 p.m. or later.

There’s all of that to prove that maybe this line was more well-placed than previously thought, and I didn’t even get to the fact that South Carolina has lost its last seven games against Clemson by an average of 26 points.

Vegas has grubbed on South Carolina bettors these past seven years, and they hope to do it again by reeling you in with those 14.5 points.

What will have to happen for the Gamecocks to cover?

Defensively, the Cocks will have 14 points to work with. If they are able to hold Clemson to under 30, a cover will likely be in play, and doing that against a Tiger squad mainly known for its defense should not be too difficult.

Will Shipley scares me, though, with USC’s suspect run defense that Tennessee decided to not take advantage of last week.

Offensively, we’ve seen a blueprint.

There have been three teams that were able to hang some points on Clemson, and all three did it the same way: running the football.

Both Notre Dame and Florida State ran for more than 200 yards with the Irish especially featuring the ground game as quarterback Drew Pyne failed to even throw for 100 yards during the contest.

Wake Forest — the school that scored the most points versus Clemson this season — ran for 110 yards as a team and were one of the few to have real success through the air with Sam Hartman throwing for 337 yards and six touchdowns, giving at least some hope for a repeat performance from Spencer Rattler.

In my opinion, I would focus on feeding Marshawn Lloyd in his return because Clemson’s pass rush is much better than Tennessee’s. Rattler will likely go back to his quick releasing ways because he will have much less time to work with in the pocket.

Running tends to milk the clock, too, which will only benefit the Cocks.

So, my keys to covering are to stop the run because you know Clemson will be doing plenty of it, run the ball down Clemson’s throat and do not turn the ball over because Death Valley will feed on that energy.

What’s the better bet?

This has been the year of ending bad streaks for South Carolina, but I believe that ends here.

The Cocks may have turned some heads this season, but this game will not be the one where they take down Clemson, or even cover the spread.

Sadly, no more fairytale endings.

Much like what I did with Texas A&M, I’m going to assume the worst with South Carolina until it changes.

Clemson isn’t Tennessee. USC will likely perform closer to how it did against Florida offensively as opposed to how it did against the Vols.

The Tigers are also smarter. They will know to run the ball against the defense that allowed 374 rushing yards to Florida.

I’ll take Clemson by 21 to 28 points.