Breaking down this week's matchup with a few predictions...
By the numbers, South Carolina has as complete a team as they've had under ninth-year coach Steve Spurrier.
The Gamecocks are under 400 yards (376) from breaking a school record for total offense, averaging 37 more per game (465.8) than any in school history.
Gamecocks pressure still a factor
The two-armed passing attack of senior Connor Shaw and junior Dylan Thompson has combined for a top-20 team pass efficiency (154.25) and only four interceptions (third nationally).
Sophomore running back Mike Davis (yes, James' brother) leads the SEC in rushing yards per game (111.2), averaging 6.2 per carry with 10 touchdowns. Davis has two 70-yard runs and six of 40 or more this season.
South Carolina is one of only 11 teams with more fourth down tries than Clemson (27), and they are converting them at a 70 percent clip (eighth nationally).
Defensively, the Gameccocks are in the top-20 in first downs (189) and passing yards allowed (200.7) and total (344.4) and scoring defense (20.3).
Junior tackle Kelcy Quarles leads the group and ranks fourth in the SEC in sacks (7).
The Gamecocks have two losses - one early in the year at hard-luck Georgia (41-30) and then a rather inexplicable one at Tennessee. Per Football Outsiders' rankings, Tennessee is No. 81 in the nation (-.067 FEI) – in the triple digits in efficiency (105) and 92nd on offense (-.273).
South Carolina is next-to-last in the SEC in fumbles lost (11).
For as vaunted a d-line as billed, they are eighth in the SEC and 81st nationally in sacks per game (1.73).
On the flipside of their fourth down 'O,' the defense is No. 118 in conversions given up (12-of-17).
A streak is going to go down.
South Carolina owns the nation's longest home winning run (17), while Clemson has won eight-straight away from home (third-longest nationally).
The Tigers are averaging 550 yards and 6.47 yards per play – 43.5 points – on the road this season. The Gamecocks are giving only 4.75 a play to FBS opponents in Williams-Brice, while the offense is averaging almost two yards more (6.5).
An improved Clemson defense should have some success containing Shaw and co., but the difference between a ‘W’ or ‘L’ comes in the Tigers’ run game and pass protection. They have run well and not stuck with it the last two seasons in this game, while allowing 11 sacks. That can’t happen Saturday.
Three Predictions & a Pick
1. Rod McDowell has at least 17 carries and tops 100 yards.
2. Sammy Watkins hauls in at least seven catches for over 80 yards and a touchdown.
3. Clemson defense holds South Carolina under 40 percent on third downs (48.7 rate the last two seasons).
Final Score: Clemson 34-31
(10-1 overall; 6-5 ATS on picks)