South Carolina’s season comes down to one game — against archrival Clemson. The Gamecocks are set to the host the top-ranked team in the nation to close out the 2015 season Saturday
South Carolina isn’t playing for bowl eligibility or an SEC championship berth, but has a chance to earn a signature victory against in-state power Clemson.
Here’s everything you need to know about this Saturday’s game:
No. 1 Clemson Tigers (11-0, 8-0 ACC) @ South Carolina Gamecocks (3-8, 3-7 SEC)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at noon ET(ESPN)
Weather: 73 degrees, partly cloudy (Weather.com)
Line: Clemson -17 (Vegas Insider)
Series: Clemson leads 66-42-4
By the numbers
1 — South Carolina has beaten a No. 1-ranked team in the nation only once in school history. The last time the Gamecocks did it was back on Oct. 9, 2010 when they knocked off then-No. 1 Alabama, 35-21. South Carolina interim coach Shawn Elliott was a member of Steve Spurrier’s coaching staff at the time. However, it’ll be a tall task for the Gamecocks to make history as the team with the better record has won this Palmetto State showdown seven of the last 10 years.
3 — The Gamecocks have won the past three games against Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium. That streak began in November 2009 and included contests in 2011 and 2013. More so, none of those three games has even been close. South Carolina’s average margin of victory has been 17.3 points in those contests
15 — Clemson is attempting to tie a school record with 15 consecutive victories. That record dates back to the 1947-49 seasons. Clemson’s first win in this stretch began on Nov. 22, 2014 against Georgia State. It includes the Tigers’ 35-17 home win over South Carolina last season, a bowl victory over Oklahoma, as well as the team’s 11 straight victories in the 2015 season.
Storylines to watch
What tricks are up Elliott’s sleeve?
South Carolina isn’t playing for much other than pride on Saturday. It will likely be Elliott’s final game as the Gamecocks’ interim coach and perhaps the last for some of the key players on this team. During South Carolina’s weekly press conference, Elliott acknowledged that the team could throw a number of different things at Clemson in an effort to pull off the upset. Whether that includes wide receiver Pharoh Cooper at quarterback, increased snaps for quarterback Lorenzo Nunez or something else, it could lead to a very exciting final game.
What kind of South Carolina team will take the field?
South Carolina has been anything but predictable this season, and the team has displayed varying levels of competitiveness under Elliott. The Gamecocks notched their first (and only) SEC victory against Vanderbilt before dropping tightly contested games against Texas A&M and Tennessee. However, they struggled against Florida and looked lost a week ago against The Citadel. South Carolina can either regain its competitive form against Clemson or fail to show up like it did the last two outings. In a rivalry game setting, you would expect to see a fiery bunch of Gamecocks come out of the tunnel at home. But hey, you never know.
Matchup to watch: Clemson RB Wayne Gallman vs. the South Carolina defense
Gallman has amassed 1,043 rushing yards on the season, making him the first Clemson running back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing since Rod McDowell did it in 2013. This season, Gallman has rushed for 100 yards or more in six games. Gallman sat out Clemson’s game against Wake Forest a week ago, but is expected back to be back against archrival South Carolina. The Gamecocks defense is allowing almost 216 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks 113th in the nation. Opponents have rushed for 100 or more yards against South Carolina in seven consecutive games and 10 of 11 this season, culminating in The Citadel’s 350 yards on the ground a week ago.
Prediction: Clemson 42, South Carolina 24
Expect South Carolina to come out swinging in its final game of the season and likely the last with Elliott as the coach. However, even the Gamecocks’ best punch would barely scratch the surface against one of college football’s best teams. The South Carolina defense couldn’t hold up against The Citadel, so how is it supposed to contain Gallman, quarterback Deshaun Watson and Co.? Expect the Gamecocks to be a bit more competitive, but they don’t have to juice to go toe-to-toe with this Clemson team.