Breakdown: Tigers take care of business, work in fresh faces

Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Roderick McDowell celebrate with Clemson's Zac Brooks after catching a pass for a touchdown during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Boyd scored five touchdowns against the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Roderick McDowell celebrate with Clemson's Zac Brooks after catching a pass for a touchdown during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Boyd scored five touchdowns against the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

Breaking down this week's matchup with a few predictions...

The Good

South Carolina State is a proud program under 12th-year head coach Buddy Pough, but it’s fallen on hard times of late.

Pough’s record there is 88-40 and 29 of those wins came from 2008-10 alongside three consecutive MEAC titles. Last season though, the Bulldogs suffered their only losing season under the longtime coach, 5-6.

S.C. State’s offense was overhauled in the offseason and they saw some instant-impact in last week’s 27-20 loss to Coastal Carolina.

Back after a three-year absence at offensive coordinator is Joe Blackwell, who bounced around from Norfolk State to Carolina Forest High School back to Orangeburg with his high-tempo scheme.

The Bulldogs ran 82 plays – 58 runs – against the Chanticleers with about as much balance as possible in passing (178) and rushing (177) yards.

Preseason MEAC first-team receiver Tyler McDonald accounted for 108 receiving yards and a touchdown, while redshirt freshman Justin Taylor led the Bulldogs with 24 carries for 80 yards and a score.

In the special teams game, senior Nick Belcher makes the most of his opportunities improving on his yards per punt average last season by almost 10 yards in the opener – 38.9 to 48 – with three landing inside the 20.

The Bad

Tigers sticking to standard this week

S.C. State up next

They’re young, especially on the o-line.

S.C. State has eight underclassmen on the offensive line two-deep – three of which are starters. That group includes former Clemson pledge Javarius Leamon (left tackle, 6-7 310, redshirt freshman).

Last week versus Coastal, they ran it almost 60 times, but averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, while senior quarterback Richard Cue completed only 54.2 percent of his passes. Last year, S.C. State finished 101st in scoring offense at the FCS level.

Facing a pretty strong Clemson running game, the Bulldogs are ranked 71st out of 102 FCS teams in rush defense after surrendering 4.8 yards a carry last week.

The Skinny

In its two early-season trips to FBS schools last season, S.C. State lost by 56 points per, but they did recover to win three out of their last four games.

Clemson is undefeated – 26-0 – against the artist formerly known as Division I-AA with a 30-point average margin of victory. Only one game has been within single-digits and that was game two of the Chad Morris era in 2011, a 35-27 win over Wofford.

As a home double-digit favorite under Dabo Swinney, Clemson has won by a 23-point spread on average (16-0).

So, in short, this will be a clear-the-bench game where Tiger fans see some fresh faces on the field.

Three Predictions & a Pick

1. Clemson has a second-straight 100-yard rusher...and it's Zac Brooks (McDowell sits more in the second half).

2. Mike Williams and Germone Hopper haul in their first career catches.

3. Chad Kelly gets a series, while Tajh Boyd plays less than three quarters (he played into the fourth versus Furman last year).

Final Score: Clemson 52-7

(1-0 overall & ATS on the season)

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Comments » 4

Bleedsorange writes:

The spread is 52.5 I don't see Swinney running the score up like that we will be 1-1 ats Saturday late afternoon.

TigerFan95 writes:

This will be a closer game than most fans expect and will like for the first half but the tigers will make it a snoozer in the second. I'll be happy with a win and no injuries. Final score Clemson 41 Bulldogs 10.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

Considering Clemson is a 52.5 point favorite, winning by 23 isn't too good. I wouldn't bet Clemson and lay that many points. Just think if they run a kickoff back for a td or get lucky and score somehow, you show nuff have put some points on the board then to cover.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

Dabo won't run the score up on them no matter what. If the 2nd and 3rd string guys keep scoring then that's the way it is, but Dabo will not run it up. Whatever points, for the most part we get, we will get in the first half. I still think we get 55 and they might get 10. If we play as hard as we did last week we will get 50 in the first half, but I don't know if I would even want to see that. And there has been a day these guys had a good football team. One of the best defensive lineman in NFL history played down there. Everybody remembers Deacon Jones and I believe he died recently. I'm not positive about that but I think I remember not too long ago hearing he had died. I liked ole Deacon a lot. He was really good.

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