David Porter's Live Game Blog
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KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
SERIES: Clemson leads 65-38-4 (last meeting, 2009, South Carolina 34-17)
RECORDS: South Carolina 8-3, 5-3; Clemson 6-5, 4-4
POLLS: South Carolina (18 AP, 17 USA Today)
PREDICTION: South Carolina 28-24
CLEMSON WEEK COVERAGE:
South Carolina vs. Clemson: Storylines
The Daily Anthem: Keys to Victory against Clemson
G&G: A tale of two Tigers
Ready to turn a corner?
Anna's Tailgate Recipe for Clemson
Gamecocks Offense Must Contain Bowers
Video: Offense talks Tigers
Video: Johnson talks Clemson
The Daily Anthem: 11/24/10
JJ's Take: A football smorgasbord
Press Conference: Déjà Vu All Over Again?
Video: Spurrier talks Clemson
JJ's Take: Atlanta can wait, beat Clemson
Rivalry Week is Here
Video: Defense talks Clemson Week
Can Clemson contain Lattimore?
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For South Carolina: Ride Marcus Lattimore. The freshman running back has proven he can carry the load, having toted the ball 40 times against Florida and 37 times against Georgia. That allows QB Stephen Garcia to select when the team wants to challenge Clemson's talented secondary with WR Alshon Jeffery.
-- For Clemson: Establish its running game and stop South Carolina's. RB Jamie Harper needs to have a good day to take the pressure off QB Kyle Parker. Clemson's defense needs to get the Gamecocks off the field on third down.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
-- The Gamecocks are on a roll, having scored at least 36 points in three of their last four games. That came to a head on Saturday when they scored 69 against Troy, with 59 coming in the first half. The team has officially become a run-first attack, with freshman RB Marcus Lattimore leading the way with 1,066 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Counting receptions, he has 19 scores. His running ability has allowed QB Stephen Garcia to put together his most consistent campaign yet. Part of that has been passing to record-setting WR Alshon Jeffeery, who has yet to be stopped this season.
The Gamecocks have been stout against the run all season, leading the SEC by allowing only 96.1 ypg rushing, which ranks seventh nationally. Stopping the pass has been more hit and miss. The team has been vastly improved in that area in dominating wins over Florida and Troy. The Gamecocks face a Clemson team that features inexperienced receivers and has been mediocre at best through the air.
There's a slight chance that RB Andre Ellington, Clemson's leading rusher who has missed three games with a foot injury, could return and play against South Carolina, but don't expect much from the redshirt sophomore, particularly with Jamie Harper's play of late. Harper has averaged 25 carries and 115 ypg rushing in his three starts in Ellington's place. QB Kyle Parker is heating up as the season winds down, which mimics his play of a season ago. Last season Parker completed 49 percent of his passes in the first six games and 61 percent in the final six. This season he completed 51 percent in his first six games but is connecting at a 65 percent clip in his last five. Clemson's offensive line, led by senior OT Chris Hairston, has played well in recent weeks, and the Tigers' receivers -- led by Jaron Brown -- are growing up quickly and becoming steady contributors.
Clemson's defense has been outstanding. The Tigers have allowed just one touchdown in each of their last six games -- one of just two programs in the nation that can make that claim. Clemson ranks ninth nationally in scoring defense (16.73 ppg) and sixth in total touchdowns allowed (20). DE Da'Quan Bowers has recorded at least one sack in a school-record nine consecutive games and leads the nation in that category. Clemson's veteran secondary, led by senior SS DeAndre McDaniel and senior CB Marcus Gilchrist, has been solid if not spectacular and ranks 18th in pass efficiency defense and 21st in yp passing yards (188.91).
Gamecocks: RB Marcus Lattimore scored three touchdowns in South Carolina's 69-24 win over Troy, giving him 19 on the season. While that is a school single-season record, he needs two more scores to top the SEC record set by former Tennessee RB Reggie Cobb in 1987. Lattimore has topped the 150-yard rushing total three times this season and is second in the league in rushing yards per game (106.6). ... WR Alshon Jeffery is the all-time leader in single-season reception yards for a South Carolina player at 1,210 yards, breaking the standard held by Sidney Rice. He leads the SEC in both receiving yards per game (110.0) and receptions per game (6.4). He has caught 70 passes this season, which is good enough to make him one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award. ... South Carolina, which claimed a 34-17 victory over Clemson in 2009, is seeking to win back-to-back games against its rival for the first time since 1970. ... LT Jarriel King (concussion) played as a reserve last week after missing the Florida game. Junior Kyle Nunn earned his second straight start at the position. ... DE Chaz Sutton returned to action last week after missing four games with a broken hand. He was credited with a tackle and returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown.
Tigers: The Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is the third longest streak of consecutive years played in a series in the country. The two teams have played 108 times overall and 102 in a row. Only Kansas-Nebraska (105) and Minnesota-Wisconsin (104) have longer consecutive streaks going. ... In five of the past six years, the team with the better record entering the season-ending Clemson-South Carolina game has lost. ... DE Da'Quan Bowers continues to lead the nation with 15 .5 sacks. The junior needs to just one sack to eclipse the school record of 16 sacks set by LB Keith Adams in 1999. Bowers also ranks second nationally with 24 tackles for loss. ... WR DeAndre Hopkins has 36 receptions this season, which is a Clemson record for a true freshman. The previous record was 27 set by Roscoe Crosby in 2001. Hopkins' 408 receiving yards are just 57 short of Crosby's first-year freshman yardage mark. ... P Dawson Zimmerman is on pace for the sixth-best punting average in Clemson history. He is averaging 43.47 on 47 attempts. His net punting for the year (41.9) is second best in school history, behind only Dale Hatcher's 42.4 mark set in 1984.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
RB Marcus Lattimore -- Coach Steve Spurrier has hitched his team's wagon to the talented freshman, now calling his squad a running team. That is an amazing statement from the creator of the "Fun N Gun" attack. When Lattimore has been on his game, it has been impossible to stop the Gamecocks.
QB Stephen Garcia -- After being the butt of constant criticism from his coach, the redshirt junior has played so well that even Spurrier has taken notice. He admits his quarterback has done everything that has been asked.
DE Cliff Matthews -- Although he struggled much of the season, the senior captain has come on strong since getting the medical clearance to remove a shoulder sling that stunted his performance. Probably no player wants to defeat Clemson more than this in-state performer.
CB Marcus Gilchrist -- The senior cornerback will be matched up with South Carolina standout WR Alshon Jeffery plenty on Saturday, and the battles could be interesting. The rangy Jeffery is 6-4; Gilchrist is only 5-11, but he is one of the best athletes Clemson has.
DE Da'Quan Bowers -- Bowers has plenty of incentive this week. He is playing his arch-rival and he needs to just one sack to break Clemson's single-season record.
QB Kyle Parker -- If South Carolina has shown a weakness, it's in the secondary. Parker has been playing well recently, and if he musters a performance similar to last Saturday's, when he completed 15 of 17 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown, the Tigers stand a much better chance of knocking off the 18th-ranked Gamecocks.
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion, probable), SPUR Damrio Jeffery (thigh, probable), CB Marty Markett (knee, questionable).
RB Andre Ellington (toe, questionable), DT Miguel Chavis (foot, questionable), LB Brandon Maye (concussion, questionable), WR Bryce McNeal (heal, questionable), LB John Wright (back, out).
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