Pick: Clemson at South Carolina

Most of the action on this game has been from a side perspective, but I'm going after the total.

Clemson at South Carolina
Odds: South Carolina -3 (-110) and 58 (-110)
Time - 7pm EST
TV: ESPN 2, DTV:209

Extremely surprised by the opening number of South Carolina -6 in this one and the early money has shown the same sentiment by driving it down to -3. The action on Clemson is mostly value based which was strongly indicated by my power ratings projected line of South Carolina -0.5. The initial Clemson surge figures to settle in right around the -3 / -3.5 range where we'll likely start to see two-way action heading into game time.

While the value players saw opportunity in playing Clemson plus the early number, the fundamental and situational angles can be argued strongly in support of each team. In Clemson's favor from a motivational standpoint is the fact that QB Taj Boyd and all members of his class have never defeated the Gamecocks. The triple revenge aspect is likely to have CU fired up and ready to atone for the current three game losing streak in this rivalry. For South Carolina, they could clinch the SEC East Division title and a spot in the Conference Championship Game if they win and Missouri loses to Texas A&M. Also, the Cotton Bowl has stated their desire to have the Gamecocks in Dallas on Friday, Jan 3 should they win this game. That invite would be huge for South Carolina which along with HC Steve Spurrier have never participated in the Cotton Bowl. If the chips fall perfectly, USC could land as they SEC rep in the Sugar Bowl.

Fundamentally, South Carolina should be at full strength offensively this week and present the toughest challenge Clemson has seen since getting dismantled by Florida State on October 19th. The Gamecocks balanced offense combined with the running of QB Connor Shaw poses similar style problems to what Clemson faced against FSU. While South Carolina is not as explosive as Florida State, expect Clemson to have their hands full with Shaw, RB Davis and the passing game. The USC defense will have virtually the same concerns facing Clemson's 516.6 yards per game offense. The emergence of WR Martavis Bryant (420 receiving yards L4G) to compliment star wideout Sammy Watkins will definitely be problematic for the South Carolina secondary which needs their strong pass rush to help the secondary. Boyd has been sacked 25 times and once every 13.9 attempts.

While most of the action on this game has been from a side perspective, I'm going to take a stance with the total. The list of quarterbacks South Carolina has faced the last seven games is extremely unimpressive and may have the Gamecocks defensive numbers skewed a bit. The only QB's in Boyd's class faced by South Carolina were Central Florida's QB Blake Bortels who led his team to 427 total yards and 25 points while Georgia piled up 536 yards and 41 points with Aaron Murray at the helm. Look for those type of numbers to be accumulated by Clemson. On the other side, South Carolina's offense has faced stronger defenses than Clemson's the past month and they'll be too diverse for Clemson to handle. Anticipate the scoreboard to be in constant motion and this game to get "over" the total of 58.

Recommendation: Clemson-South Carolina OVER 58

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