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