The Final Breakdown

Fresh off their big win over Georgia, No. 4 Clemson will take on S.C. State on Saturday afternoon at 12:30.

WHAT: No. 4 Clemson vs. S.C. State
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (81,500) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 7 (12:30 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson by 52
TV: RSN

CLEMSON AIR ATTACK VS. S.C. STATE PASS RUSH/SECONDARY
Tajh Boyd had a Heisman Trophy worthy performance against No. 5 Georgia last Saturday night, passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns in Clemson's 38-35 win over the Bulldogs. The numbers could have been better.


Tajh Boyd could see limited playing time if all goes according to play Saturday. (Dean Legge)
Had Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant not combined for six dropped passes, Boyd's numbers probably would have been a little bit more impressive. And the score could have been a little closer to the double-digit figure predicted in the space a week ago.

If Boyd can do what he did against an elite level team from the SEC, there's absolutely no reason to believe he won't be able to put up big numbers against S.C. State. The question is: how high can he go?

Ideally, Boyd will be done before halftime. If that's the case, he won't come close to matching the 30 passes he attempted against Georgia. The number to keep in mind is 18. That's the total number he completed against the Bulldogs. That's probably the ceiling when it comes to the number of passes he'll attempt on Saturday.

Look for Cole Stoudt to receive a majority of the snaps against S.C. State. The third-year No. 2 should get plenty of reps with the second-team wide receivers -- Adam Humphries, Mike Williams and Germone Hopper.

Heck, Chad Kelly might even get some playing time at quarterback. Sam Cooper and Jordan Leggett could join Darrell Smith and Stanton Seckinger at tight end.

After a few big plays downfield, which we expect will happen, the dogs will be called off. There will probably be fewer shots taken by offensive coordinator Chad Morris than normal since the score has a chance to get pretty lopsided.

ADVANTAGE:

CLEMSON GROUND GAME VS. S.C. STATE FRONT SEVEN
There was a time when transferring to FCS program like S.C. State appeared to be Roderick McDowell's quickest path carrying 20 times in one game. But he patiently waited his turn and is now the starting Clemson running back.


Roderick McDowell had a breakout game last week against Georgia, rushing for 132 yards. (Getty Images)
Well, it paid off. McDowell set career highs against Georgia with 22 carries for 132 yards. And it probably won't be the last-time that McDowell gets that many carries in a single game. It just probably won't happen against S.C. State, though another 100-yard output could be in the works.

It's tough to project which running back will have a big Saturday. Zac Brooks, D.J. Howard and C.J. Davidson are the candidates for the bulk of the carries against the Bulldogs.

Given the opponent, it's unlikely that Boyd will be much of a threat on the ground, even though he did have 42 yards and two rushing touchdowns against Georgia.

Coastal Carolina running back Lorenzo Taliaferro racked up 151 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against S.C. State last week. Three of the Chants' six ball carriers averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry against the Bulldogs.

S.C. State linebackers Joe Thomas and Justin Hughes recorded 11 and 10 tackles, respectively. Defensive end Andrew Carter had eight tackles, including one tackle for loss.

Since this game will probably be one-sided pretty quickly, those guys will probably be busy chasing down Brooks, Howard, Davidson and whomever else lines up at running back for Clemson.

ADVANTAGE:

S.C. STATE GROUND GAME VS. CLEMSON FRONT SEVEN
After seeing Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, the Clemson defense can take a deep breath this weekend.

No offense to S.C. State, but they aren't Georgia. Not even close. But there aren't many teams that Clemson will play this fall that have a backfield duo like the one the Tigers saw almost seven days ago.


Stephone Anthony was a key performer last week and figures to take the next step against S.C. State on Saturday. (Hale McGranahan)
This weekend's game presents a different kind of challenge. Clemson will get a taste of its own medicine when S.C. State comes to town. The Bulldogs run a version of the hurry-up, no-huddle spread offense under coordinator Joe Blackwell.

S.C. State had 58 rushing attempts in a loss to Coastal Carolina last weekend. Justin Taylor had a team-high 24 carries for 80 yards. Julius Pendergrass carried 18 times for 58 yards, Dondre Brown ran 11 times for 34 yards and quarterback Richard Cue had 15 yards on five carries.

Those guys will struggle to find room against a Clemson front that was solid against Georgia, even though the final stat totals may not be indicative of how well they played.

Earlier this week, Brent Venables was pleased with the aggressive nature his guys showed against Gurshall. The linebackers were at the center of his praise. Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony had 18 and 13 tackles, respectively.

The interior rotation of Grady Jarrett, Carlos Watkins, DeShawn Williams, Josh Watson and D.J. Reader was strong, too.

They should have their way on Saturday.

ADVANTAGE:

S.C. STATE AIR ATTACK VS. S.C. STATE PASS RUSH/SECONDARY
Cue might want to keep his head on a swivel on Saturday. Clemson sacked Aaron Murray four times in the season opener. Only nine other teams had more on the first weekend of the season.


Vic Beasley led the way for the Clemson defense with two sacks versus Georgia. (Roy Philpott)
Victor Beasley, last year's team leader in sacks, was back to the form he played at in 2012, recording two sacks against Georgia. Tavaris Barnes had one while Corey Crawford and Anthony combined for another. Look for the trio of defensive ends to apply plenty of pressure to Cue when he isn't handing the ball off or throwing it after three quick steps.

Cue completed 13 of 23 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against Coastal Carolina. Wide receiver Tyler McDonald caught a team-high four passes for 108 yards with one touchdown. Five other S.C. State receivers combined for nine catches.

Those receivers will matchup with a veteran group of Clemson cornerbacks that is expected to have a freshman join the mix. Mackensie Alexander, one of the prized additions in the Tigers' 2013 signing class, was expected to make his debut on Saturday, but he re-aggravated the groin injury that's kept him out of practice for most of the season.

Crawford was the only Clemson defender with an interception. Look for that to change after S.C. State comes to town. Might it be safe to assume that a safety, cornerback and linebacker all come up with an interception? We think so.

In keeping with the orange trend, Clemson gets the nod here.

ADVANTAGE:

SPECIAL TEAMS
Bradley Pinion was good against Georgia, really, really good against Georgia. He punted seven times and kicked off seven times. Only one was returned.


Clemson's Chandler Catanzaro has made 28 of his last 29 field goal attempts. (Roy Philpott)
His net punting average was 40.4. Three punts were downed inside the 20-yardline and two went 50 yards or further.

Chandler Catanzaro was back to his dependable ways after having a rocky outing in the spring game. He connected on all five extra-point attempts and made afield goal from 24 yards.

It's probably safe to assume that Watkins won't do much in the return game. There's no need to use your best player on special teams against an FCS opponent. But that won't make much of an impact on which team wins this matchup.

ADVANTAGE:

PREDICTION: Clemson 56 S.C. State 7

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