Clemson takes its four-game winning streak on the road to Columbia for the regular-season finale against arch-rival South Carolina.
The No. 23 Tigers (8-3, 6-2) have won six consecutive games over the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5), as the two schools get set to renew their heated rivalry after not playing for the first time in 111 years a season ago.
5 Things to Watch For
1. Road Woes: The Tigers are still looking for a complete performance away from Death Valley. In a season full of struggles on the offensive side of the ball, the most trouble has come away from home where Clemson is just 3-2. However, the Tigers are coming off a 21-point blowout win over then No. 10 Wake Forest, in which the offense erupted for close to 550 yards, with 333 of those coming on the ground. This will be by far the most hostile environment this team has faced all season, and considering all of the youth on offense, putting together another complete performance won't be easy.
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2. Turnovers: The Tigers have to be better at protecting the football than they have in recent weeks. Clemson turned it over three times in the blowout win over Wake and twice in the win over UConn. The Gamecocks have excelled at forcing turnovers this season, particularly in pass defense where they have 14 interceptions. Ball security is a must as points could be at a premium. The Tigers can not afford to be sloppy with the football and must make the Gamecocks earn everything they get rather than setting them up with a short field.
3. Establish the Run: South Carolina comes in ranked 95th in the nation in run defense, allowing 171 yards per game on the ground. DJ Uiagalelei has had his share of struggles in his first season as starting quarterback. Now the sophomore is also banged up, nursing a sprained knee and a hurt finger on his throwing hand. Getting the running game going will take the pressure off the young quarterback and allow the Tigers to control the clock, keeping the defense off the field. It was a recipe for success one week ago against the Demon Deacons and could be Clemson's best shot at getting out of Columbia with a win, especially considering how injury-depleted the wide receiver room is currently.
4. Brent Venables vs South Carolina Offense: Graduate transfer Jason Brown will make his fourth consecutive start for the Gamecocks. In his first two starts, South Carolina went well over the 400-yard mark in total offense, before having just 306 in last week's 21-17 win over Auburn. Venables' unit comes in ranked No. 8 in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 16 points per game. The Tigers also come in ranked No. 3 in sacks, averaging 3.64 per game. This will be by far the best defense Brown has faced and you just know Venables will have a plan to keep the quarterback from getting into a rhythm. The key will be containing the South Carolina running game and making Brown beat the Tigers with his arm.
5. Keeping the Streak Alive: The Tigers have won six straight over their in-state rival. The record for consecutive wins by either team in the series is seven, set by Clemson between 1934-40. The last time the Gamecocks knocked off Clemson was back in 2013, meaning no player on the roster has ever experienced a loss to South Carolina. Interestingly enough, Clemson's six-game winning streak comes on the heels of the Gamecocks having won five in a row, their longest winning streak in the series.
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