Could there be another No. 1 upset brewing in Columbia this week?
Possible, but not probable.
It happened before against Alabama in 2010. Bama looked invincible that season, similar somewhat to how Clemson looks this season.
Both teams are led by defensive-minded coaches and have big-play ability on offense. Both were also on the track to play for a national title when they came into Williams-Brice.
Both Gamecock teams have a future NFL receiver on the team (Alshon Jeffery to Pharoh Cooper). Both have quarterbacks that can run.
Oh, and where did Dabo play college ball? Alabama.
These are Twilight-Zone level coincidences (not really, but let me have it) and it could shape up to be another upset this Saturday.
It’ll take an out-of-their-minds performance from the Gamecocks to win, so here are the ways South Carolina could upset the No. 1 team in the country this weekend.
Control the line of scrimmage
It’s a tough task against a good Clemson offensive line and a really good (top 20 in the country in rushing defense and team sacks) defensive line. The Gamecocks will have to stop Wayne Gallman, whose 1,043 total rushing yards is third-best in the ACC. Brandon Wilds will need to rebound from 61 yards in the last two games and have a 100-yard rushing day if the Gamecocks can pull it out. Against Alabama, the Gamecocks rushed for 110 yards and limited the Tide to only 36. And, if the running game gets going, they’ll be able to bleed some clock as well.
Bend but don’t break
Against Alabama, the Gamecocks forced two red-zone stops and limited a high-powered Tide offense to field goals instead of touchdowns. The South Carolina defense will have to do the same against a Clemson team averaging 38 points per game. If this game becomes a shootout, there’s not much hope for an upset. Clemson has as 46 percent conversion rate on third down and an almost 90 percent efficiency in the red-zone. The Gamecock defense will have to not let that trend continue Saturday if they want to win.
Perry Orth will have to play like a man possessed
Hey remember that mullet rocking, human bar Stephen Garcia that played for the Gamecocks against Alabama? He had a pretty good day (17-for-20, 201 yards and a touchdown) against the Tide. Perry Orth will have to put up similar numbers. The Clemson defense will be keying on Cooper, and it’ll be up to the quarterback to make the plays and find him open. Orth will also have to play mistake free and not take any sacks. The more long-distance downs the Gamecocks face, the lower their win probability goes.
Prediction: An upset is possible this week. Now, these are dream scenarios and I don’t think all the stars will align, but it’s totally possible. Do I think it will happen? No. South Carolina wants to play spoiler horribly, but at the end of the day, Clemson is just really good. I think it’ll stay close until the end (shocker, another game going down to the wire) but Watson makes just enough plays to put the game away.
Final Score: South Carolina 24, Clemson 38