Rivalry by the numbers

In this two-part series, Gamecock Anthem takes a look at the numbers of the two rivals as they prepare for Saturday's clash in the upstate. Today we take a look at Clemson's high-powered offense against Carolina's talented defense. How many yards can we expect Clemson to gain and how many points will Carolina's defense give up?

Today we take a look at the Clemson offense vs. the South Carolina defense. A lot has been made of the Clemson offense and what it has accomplished this season. It is well deserved as the Tigers are sixth in the FBS averaging nearly 536 yards per game. They are fourth in the nation in scoring with nearly 45 points per game. However, they have only faced one defense as highly-rated as South Carolina and that was Florida State early in the year. The argument can be made that Carolina's defense is better than the Seminole defense that is number one in the nation in yards given up based on opponent strength. That argument will wait until another day as Carolina is not playing Florida State Saturday.

South Carolina's defense would rank between Florida State and Maryland (15th) if they were in the ACC in total defense. Florida State gives up 236 yards per game and Carolina gives up 311 yards per game. South Carolina would also rank second in the ACC in scoring defense with Florida State giving up 13 points per game and Carolina giving up 17. Clearly this will be a match-up of strength vs. strength. One will certainly bend in this game and Clemson will likely gain more yards and score more points than Carolina is giving up, but Carolina will almost certainly hold the Tigers to under their average in yards and points.

Here we take a look at where the defenses Clemson has faced, what they are giving up on average, and how well Clemson did against those opponents. It will go, from left to right, opponent, opponent record, yards per game given up (national rank), and points per game given up by the opponent (national rank).

Auburn – 3-8, 415 yards (74th), 26 points (59th)
Ball State – 8-3, 472 yards (107th), 32 points (93rd)
Florida State – 10-1, 236 yards (1st), 13 points (5th)
Boston College – 2-9, 464 yards (104th), 30 points (78th)
Georgia Tech – 6-5, 393 yards (61st), 30 points (76th)
Virginia Tech – 5-6, 356 yards (33rd), 25 points (48th)
Wake Forest – 5-6, 433 yards (87th), 30 points (78th)
Duke – 6-5, 445 yards (95th), 33 points (99th)
Maryland – 4-7, 323 yards (15th), 26 points (53rd),
NC State – 6-5, 429 yards (83rd), 26 points (56th)
South Carolina – 9-2, 311 yards (13th), 17 points (13th)

As you can see, Florida State is the only team on Clemson's schedule that is statistically better than South Carolina. Maryland is not a far second behind Carolina in yards per game, but every team other than Florida State is giving up at least eight points more than the Gamecocks.

Now we look at how many yards Clemson's offense gained on each defense (+/- differential) and the amount of points they scored (+/- differential).

Auburn – 528 yards (+113), 26 points (0)
Ball State – 526 yards (+54), 52 points (+20)
Florida State – 426 yards (+190), 37 points (+24)
Boston College – 576 yards (+112), 45 points (+15)
Georgia Tech – 601 yards (+208), 47 points (+17)
Virginia Tech – 295 yards (-61), 38 points (+13)
Wake Forest – 534 yards (+101), 42 points (+12)
Duke – 718 yards (+273), 56 points (+23)
Maryland – 436 yards (+113), 45 points (+19)
NC State – 754 yards (+325), 62 points (+32)

The first thing you notice is that Clemson has been on fire the last three weeks. They have put up the yards and points. By average, Clemson is gaining 141 more yards than their opponent has given up on average and 16 points. By average of Clemson's offense alone, the Tigers will gain 452 yards and score 33 points.

However, there are always two sides. Let's look at the Carolina defense against their opponents. Like with Clemson's opposing defenses, we will look at the opponent, record, average yards per game (national rank), and points per game (national rank). As with Clemson, FCS opponents will not count.

Vanderbilt – 7-4, 389 yards (80th), 27 points (74th)
East Carolina – 7-4 394 yards (70th), 28 points (66th)
UAB – 3-8, 403 yards (60th), 29 points (63rd)
Missouri – 5-6, 347 yards (99th), 25 points (81st)
Kentucky – 2-9, 306 yards (115th), 18 points (116)
Georgia – 10-1, 471 yards (25th), 38 points (21st)
LSU – 9-2, 395 yards (68th), 31 points (46th)
Florida – 10-1, 333 yards (104th), 26 points (79th)
Tennessee – 4-7, 478 yards (23rd), 36 points (26th)
Arkansas – 4-7, 416 yards (54th), 24 points (88th)
Clemson – 10-1, 536 yards (6th), 45 points (4th)

As you can see, Carolina has not seen an offense that has put up the kind of numbers that Clemson has. They average over 50 more yards than anyone Carolina has faced and at least a touchdown better than any team Carolina has faced.

Now we look at how many yards South Carolina gave up to their opponents (+/- differential) and how many points they allowed (+/- differential).

Vanderbilt – 276 yards (-113), 13 points (-14)
East Carolina – 403 yards (+9), 10 points (-18)
UAB – 267 yards (-136), 6 points (-23)
Missouri – 255 yards (-92), 10 points(-15)
Kentucky – 243 yards (-66), 17 points (-1)
Georgia – 224 yards (-247), 7 points (-31)
LSU - 406 yards (+11), 23 points (-8)
Florida – 183 yards (-150), 44 points (+18)
Tennessee – 472 yards (-6), 35 points (-1)
Arkansas – 360 yards (-56), 20 points (-4)

Unlike Clemson, the first thing you know is that the last three opponents (though Wofford is not counted) have moved the ball with some success and have gotten near their average in yards and points (with the exception of Wofford). However, with the exception of the Florida game with the three early turnovers, this defense has held most of its opponents to well under their average. They will certainly have to do that against Clemson to have a chance to win the game. South Carolina is limiting their opponents to nearly 85 yards fewer than their season average and nearly 10 points fewer. By average of South Carolina's defense alone, Clemson will gain 451 yards and 35 points.

As you can see, the numbers are very similar. On Clemson's side they will gain 452 yards and score 33 points, and on Carolina's side they will gain 451 yards and score 35 points. Based on these numbers alone, South Carolina's offense will have to surpass 35 points in order to beat Clemson Saturday night.

Tomorrow we will flip the roles and take a look at South Carolina's offense against Clemson's defense. Will South Carolina's offense score enough to keep pace with Clemson's offense, or will South Carolina's defense play above and beyond to limit Clemson's point production?

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