It’s rivalry week. And the Carolina–Clemson rivalry is front and center.
No. 2 Clemson (10-1) will head to Columbia, S.C. to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (8-3) in a rivalry that has been in business since 1909 with meeting No. 109 coming on Saturday. And though the Tigers have much more on the line — a loss would in all likelihood keep them out of the College Football Playoff — USC has emerged as a real threat, having won five of their last six games.
Yahoo! Sports columnist Pat Forde made a few predictions for this weekend’s rivalry games, picking Clemson by 9 on the road. Here’s what he wrote:
Clemson-South Carolina (23). Relevance: 4½. Heat: 4. Tradition: 3. Where: Columbia. When: 7:30 Saturday. Line: Clemson by 14. What’s on the line beyond bragging rights: Tigers’ CFP aspirations. Key matchup: Clemson’s pass rush against South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley. The Tigers are second nationally in sacks with 39, and sophomore QB Bentley has struggled lately — in his last five games against FBS competition, he has two touchdowns and five interceptions and is averaging fewer than 200 passing yards. Dash pick: Clemson 29, South Carolina 21. This one will be too close for Dabo to call grandstanding timeouts in the final minutes.
A nine-point win would mean South Carolina — a 14-point underdog in this one — would cover in what some might argue a closer-than-expected result, but blowouts aren’t uncommon in this series. Eight of the last nine matchups between these two schools have resulted in 10 points or more in terms of scoring margin with an average discrepancy of 19.2 points.
If Clemson pulls off the road win, it will have won the fourth consecutive game in this series, claiming its fifth 11-win season (or more) in the last six years.
Game time is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.