The time has finally arrived. What that time actually is remains to be seen. Will it be the time the unbeaten Clemson Tigers capped off an undefeated regular season a top the college football world? Or, will it be when the 3-8 South Carolina Gamecocks welcome any and all Tigers fans into Williams-Brice only to expose them to the most satisfying upset in Gamecock history?
I'll guess we'll find out shortly. Until then, here's our Palmetto Bowl preview with a little extra special sauce for our beloved viewers at home.
Three keys for the Gamecocks to pull of the upset:
1. Run the dang ball! (Successfully) Since Shawn Elliott’s temporary promotion as interim head coach of the Gamecocks, the running attack has been streaky. Establish a rushing attack with Brandon Wilds while also utilizing the athletic abilities of Pharoh Cooper and Lorenzo Nunez. Nunez needs to be on the field more than ever to give Clemson defensive coaches someone else to account for.
When the run game gets going, South Carolina has been able to put up some points. When it’s not going well, they struggle badly. Clemson and Florida’s defense are very similar, in regards to defensive line talent. They both rank at the top in total and rushing defense. South Carolina rushed for 21 total yards against the Gators and only put up 14 points. When South Carolina rushes for over 150 yards, they average 24 points. They’ve done that in 3 games under Elliot. Establish a run game to help Perry Orth and it increases the chances of upsetting the Tigers
2. Create an edge During "The Streak" from 2009-2013, the Gamecocks developed mind control over the Tigers. They talked trash, and set the tone. While the defense needs to make plays, they also need to control what they can and that’s setting the tone. The players need to get fired up and want to make Clemson wonder what they walked into before the ball is even kicked off.
During the game, they all need to fly to the football and let whoever has the ball at the end of the play know, that they’ll be there all day in their face. This especially goes for Deshaun Watson. He’s the one player they need to get to the most and put doubt in if they want to give South Carolina a chance to win the game. Clemson players know what South Carolina’s record is and probably expect a blowout, rightfully so. Gamecock players need to make them wonder how a 3-8 team can be so cocky. The fans will be into it and will only feed off the players even more. Get in their face. Talk some smack. Give it your all. Maximize everything you can control.
3. Utilize Lorenzo Nunez. In every game under Shawn Elliot this season, South Carolina has put a new wrinkle or trick play into the game plan. Most of the time, they’ve worked. Keep doing it. As mentioned briefly already, involve Lorenzo Nunez more than ever. He's a great athlete and can only help in the run game. Move him around as much as possible before the play to try and confuse Clemson coaches and players. Utilizing Nunez to the maximum gives Brent Venables and Clemson defensive coaches another dynamic athlete to watch for specifically when on the field. Wrap it all up into an up-tempo offense, and it could test the Tigers more than they thought they would have coming into Saturday.
Three keys for the Tigers to Clemson:
1. Dabo forgets his camo. No camo pants for Dabo equals vulnerable legs. Paying respects to our military through sports is cool, but there's definitely less corny ways than posing as a combat troop on the sideline.
2. The big dance. We all know how much Dabo loves to dance. ESPN has provided more analysis on the Tigers' dance moves than the their actual on-field performance this year. And that should stay the same. You're 18 point favorites. You don't even need DeShaun. Rest him for Charlotte. Don't worry about us. Just focus on ousting Cam Newton as all-time great dancer, and keep working on that Dab.
3. Leave the leash at home. There's not much that doesn't excite Brent Venables. In fact he's so fired up on the sideline, he needs his own spotter to pull him back. Well, to hell with that guy. Let Venables roam free Saturday. Ignore those painted lines Brent, the field is you own dominion to do with what you please. Those yellow flags tossed around by the people in stripes are useless anyway.
GABA staff predictions:
Sydney - Not feeling good about it. 37-14 Clemson.
Kaci - Somewhere along the lines of a 34-31 upset and 42-16 loss.
DC3 - 38-17 bad guys
James - Unwavering optimism vs. the cold hard truth. Hoping for a 24-21 upset. Expecting a 38-10 dismantling.
Richard - If he's being honest 42-14 Clemson.
Cockaboose - After rubbing lucky charms and keeping his DeShaun voodoo doll in check, 28-27 South Carolina.
Is there any Connor Shaw magic lingering around Willy B?