The South Carolina Gamecocks conclude their regular season today with the annual rivalry matchup against the hated Clemson Tigers. While our furry friends in the Upstate haven’t been having the best season by their lofty standards, they’re still a top-10 team and are likely hunting for a resounding win to keep whatever playoff hopes they have alive. From the Gamecock perspective, USC will be looking to prove last week’s demolition of Tennessee wasn’t a fluke. Here’s how the GABA gang is feeling ahead of the biggest college football weekend of the year.
Kody: Man, I just don’t know. Rivalry games are often difficult to get a read on, and this one is no exception. On the one hand, USC is riding high, and showed 63 reasons to have some hope for the future last week against Tennessee. On the other, South Carolina fans expected the Gamecocks to compete against a similarly vulnerable Clemson last year, and USC failed to even get on the scoreboard – and at home, no less. Obviously, this is a different season with different circumstances, but I think Clemson still has a wide talent and experience edge on this program. No doubt the Gamecocks are moving in the right direction, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s plenty of mountain left to climb. My heart says the 14.5-point line is too high, but my head says that feels about right, and there’s a chance Clemson runs away with it too. I’ll kind of split the difference here and go with 38-21 Tigers.
Brent: Last week the Gamecocks showed everyone what they were capable of on offense. If we are all being honest with ourselves, nobody saw that coming. Not even in our wildest dreams. Now, can they do it again? It isn’t realistic to ask for them to replicate a 63 point outburst against Clemson on Saturday, but they will need to play at a high level again. I have tried to wrap my mind around what South Carolina winning against Clemson looks like and it is going to take a lot of things that they have done at times this year and then have looked horrible doing at other times. First, they will have to play well on the road. They did that against Kentucky and Vanderbilt but not against Arkansas and Florida. Next, they are going to have to find a way to stop the run. Clemson running back Will Shipley is going to be a load to stop and the Gamecocks struggled mightily last time they ventured on the road against a team that ran the ball in very similar ways to how Clemson will try to run the ball. Carolina is also going to have to find a way to play well during the day. Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, and Florida were all played in the light of day and the Gamecocks appeared to believe the game started at night. Finally, focusing on the trends of the rivalry in recent years, Carolina has to find a way to compete in this game. I know that sounds dumb, but these games have been over early in the second half with the exception of the 2015 game since Carolina’s last victory in 2013. I am of the thought, just how I was going into the Texas A&M and Kentucky games. I have to see it to believe it first before I believe Carolina can beat a team that they haven’t in a while. I say all of that to say this: It feels like the deck of cards are finally more equal than they have been since Carolina’s last victory in 2013. They finally seem to have the offensive weapons to threaten Clemson that they just simply haven’t in this losing streak with the exception of the 2018 contest. Marshawn Lloyd’s return to the backfield seems imminent. So, three questions have to be answered for Carolina to win. Can they protect Rattler? Can they stop Shipley? Can they play well on the road? I think Carolina is going to play well, and I think they find some success once again this week on offense, but I am going to pick the Tigers to win this one 31-17.
Matt: Although all should be well after cruising past Tennessee last week, I’m not feeling confident about this one. I feel like this happens every year. South Carolina gets some morale-boosting victory heading into the Clemson game, the fans feel hopeful and believe this year is FINALLY the year, and the Cocks get killed. Like clockwork. Yes, it’s not every season that USC comes into this week fresh off a victory over one of the best teams in the country, but I’m still feeling cautiously optimistic. Anyway, that “I don’t care” play-calling we saw on offense last week will not work against Clemson. We have not seen many teams have success “slinging it” versus the Tigers this year and Spencer Rattler will simply not have that kind of time to throw the ball either. Hopefully having Marshawn Lloyd back will help, but I expect the offense to revert back to the version we saw two weeks ago in Gainesville, struggle to score and fail to stop Clemson’s Will Shipley in the run game. The day game curse will live on, and Clemson will down South Carolina, 35-7.
Katie: By sheer dumb luck I have predicted all the big wins this year and I’m calling for another one on Saturday. The offense kind of operated on my NO THOUGHTS, JUST VIBES strategy last week and it worked, though I’m not sure whether that gameplan will work for a second week in a row. That being said, eternal sports optimism is my play every week, so I’m going with the ANY GIVEN SATURDAY mindset one more time for the regular season.