Clemson is a clear favorite over South Carolina in this year’s edition of the Palmetto Bowl, make no mistake. Clemson’s backups could have conceivably won the ACC Coastal Division this year as Coach Swinney’s deepest team, whereas South Carolina has talent but is not a deep team. Rivalry week is a different beast and college football is notorious for upsets – but at the end of the day preparation and execution wins games regardless of who is on the opposite sideline.
Clemson’s biggest advantage is on offense against South Carolina’s defense. South Carolina’s defense is comprised mostly of three star players – that combined with injuries has forced the Gamecocks into shootouts including a 48-44 win over Ole Miss. South Carolina’s clearest weakness is rushing defense – they have allowed 190 rushing yards per game and almost 4.5 yards per rush. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, cornerback Rashad Fenton, and linebacker TJ Brunson are the best players for the Gamecocks on defense.
If Clemson executes as they should, it is hard to see the Gamecock defense posing a serious threat to the Tigers’ offense. This means that the possibility of a Gamecock victory relies on their offense and special teams.
South Carolina’s wide receivers are an impressive group, with the trio of Deebo Samuel (playmaker), Bryan Edwards (possession receiver), and Shi Smith posing matchup problems for the defensive backs they face. Clemson’s defensive backs are a formidable group, but an injury could expose the lack of depth (due to sheer lack of numbers, not talent). Since South Carolina’s passing game is much better than their rushing game, it will be up to quarterback Jake Bentley and the wide receivers to navigate a shootout-style game.
If Clemson runs the ball well on offense and stifles the Gamecock passing attack, they should win easily Saturday night. If Clemson struggles on offense and South Carolina’s offense can take advantage through the air – it could be an interesting, offensive minded game. Clemson is favored by 26 points, the over/under is 58.5 (74% of bets are on over), and Oddshark’s projected score is 52-18 Clemson.
Prediction: Clemson 56 South Carolina 13