CLEMSON — South Carolina’s stunning win over Tennessee on Saturday changed perceptions of the annual Palmetto Bowl season-ending event and gave the Gamecocks a pang of optimism as they attempt to end a seven-game losing streak against Clemson.
Clemson (10-1) hosts South Carolina (7-4) in the 119th Saturday (noon, ABC).th Meetings between teams.
The Tigers have been dominant in the series lately, surpassing South Carolina by a 286-104 lead during the winning streak. Clemson has scored 30 points in each of their last seven games and limited the Gamecocks to seven points or fewer in three of those games.
Here’s what you should know about the matchup and a score prediction:
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Both teams should be brimming with confidence
South Carolina claims its biggest win in years — a 63-38 shellac over then-No. 5 Tennessee. Clemson has had a 40-10 win over Miami in which they held the Hurricanes to 98 yards in total offense — the lowest total for Miami since 1965.
“What a huge win (for South Carolina) this past week,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team hotter than them. They played their best game and we played our best game, so both teams got some confidence.
Clemson’s job: put pressure on Rattler
Embattled South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler, who came into the game this season with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions, consistently burned Tennessee with 438 yards and six touchdowns.
“He made a few throws that you can’t defend,” Swinney said. “He put the ball on the money. He was incredibly accurate.”
Rattler seemingly acted at will, dodging Tennessee defenders and delivering perfect shots to a variety of receivers. So Clemson’s defensive strategy will be to keep him under pressure, and South Carolina coach Shane Beamer knows what to expect.
“Clemson won’t give Spencer time to settle down,” Beamer said. “I used the word disruptive in reference to Tennessee’s defense, but these guys are on another level.”
Clemson Secondary is being tested
“Rattler made some nice games — then his boys made games,” Swinney said.
One of those guys was junior wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr., who had a career day with 11 receptions for 177 yards against the Vols.
Wells, a transfer from FCS team James Madison, is a tough cover, leading the Gamecocks in receptions (54), yards (767) and touchdowns (4).
Tigers need to win the turnover margin
South Carolina cleaned against Tennessee; Suffice it to say that Clemson wasn’t nearly as efficient at controlling the ball against Miami, committing three turnovers.
After just five turnovers in their first seven games, the Tigers have had 12 turnovers in their last four games.
“Right now we just have this error,” said Clemson offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter. “I was just telling the guys the only way to get over this is to hold yourself accountable and then keep playing. don’t think about it.”
The last time South Carolina defeated Clemson was in 2013, Clemson turned the ball over six times in a 31-17 loss.
Clemson 30, South Carolina 14: Clemson’s defense appears to be playing its best ball of the season, and it could be a rough day for Rattler and the Gamecocks’ offense, which has struggled for much of the season. So, was South Carolina’s eruption in a loss in Tennessee a true indicator of Gamecocks firepower, or just a one-game illusion? Probably somewhere in between.