Five factors to tonight's game...
1) Get off the field - Clemson ranks fifth nationally in third down defense and is holding opponents to 24.3 percent on the road this season (18-74). In South Carolina's last four FBS games, they are converting at only a 26 percent rate.
2) Get Tajh in rhythm - Last season against South Carolina, the Tigers' senior quarterback completed 4-of-7 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown to start the game, but the Gamecocks' pressure got him out of sorts from there, averaging 4.2 per pass (less than half his season average) in the final nine possessions.
3) Stick with the run - Taking out sacks, Clemson averaged six yards per carry on runs and scrambles, but despite that success, Tiger tailbacks touched the ball just four times in the second half. Winning teams have averaged 47 rush attempts against South Carolina this year, while the Tigers are 3-0 with a 22-point margin of victory with 45 or more rush attempts.
4) Push the pace - Chad Morris' offense hasn't run more than 60 plays a game versus the Gamecocks over the last two seasons. Combined with a better third down 'D,' they have to move the chains and keep South Carolina on its heels. Clemson ran 100 plays against SEC foe LSU to close 2012 and 76 against Georgia in the opener. The Tigers are 18-1 under Morris when hitting the 80-play mark.
5) Contain the QB - South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw ran wild two years ago for a career-high 107 yards, totaling four touchdowns in the decisive win. Outside of triple option schemes, Clemson hasn't really surrendered a bunch on the ground to a QB. FSU's Jameis Winston did have one rush for 18 yards, but he didn't really have to run much that night. In third-and-four or longer situations, Clemson has held scrambles or designed runs without a first down 87 percent of the time (for comparison, South Carolina has a 86 percentage).
Brandon Rink's Pick: Clemson 34-31
Kerry Capps' Pick: South Carolina 27-24