Scouting South Carolina State: how the Bulldogs win

Slow down the game, seize opportunities, protect the football

S.C. State running back Julius Pendergrass

S.C. State running back Julius Pendergrass

Scouting South Carolina State: How The Bulldogs Win

1. Keep the football and slow down the game: To have even a chance of making a game of it, South Carolina State must disrupt Clemson's tempo and ready-to-fly momentum. To do it, the Bulldogs will have to do a better job than they did a year ago of converting third-down opportunities. In 2012, SC State had just a 33 percent conversion rate. They rushed for just 133 yards a game, and they were 99th in the FCS in total offense with just over 300 yards per game. Those numbers will be a recipe for disaster on Saturday.

2. Seize opportunities: There are points in every game where chances present themselves. SC State can't afford to let any of them slip away. To the Bulldogs' credit, they were pretty good a year ago at cashing in their scoring chances, with an 83 percent success rate in the red zone. The problem is, in 11 games they only penetrated the opponent's red zone 24 times. To have a chance to pull off the biggest upset of the early season, SC State probably will need a couple of cheapies - a big play in the return game and a couple of gifts from the Tigers.

3. Don't turn it over: It's Football 101, and the Bulldogs weren't very good in this area last season. They presented their opponents with 28 giveaways, and ranked 106th in the 121-team FCS in turnover margin. If the Bulldogs are loose with the football, this one will get ugly in a hurry.

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