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Odds and Ends: Clemson's in Position to End Regular Season with Cover at South Carolina

Clemson enters Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. as an 11.5-point favorite over the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Clemson's bizarre season hasn't just been felt by the fans, coaches and players. 

Figuring out how to rate this team in power rankings, and analyzing the metrics has been no easy task either. The Tigers are supposed to be good, based on talent, history and coaching, but the offense has taken a huge step back this year. 

Still, oddsmakers have made the No. 23 Tigers a favorite in all but one game this season. That came at No. 17 Pittsburgh, which won and covered a 3.5-point spread. 

On the year, Clemson's 8-3 overall, but its record against the spread is reversed (3-8). It's been a tough team to back in the betting market most weeks, but the Tigers have covered three of the last four games.

That momentum could help them cover the number this week. The Tigers head to Columbia for a 7:30 p.m. rivalry game against South Carolina as an 11.5-point favorite. The reason Clemson has been able to bring home the bacon for backers is because of an offense that's shown some signs of improvement compared to the first two months of the season. 

Clemson's produced four of its top six offensive yard totals this season during the last month, and it's scored at least 30 points in those four contests after only getting to that number once in the first seven games. 

Could that run continue against a Gamecock squad ranked 48th nationally in total defense? The Tigers are healthy at running back with Kobe Pace and Will Shipley, and the offensive line will start the same unit in consecutive weeks for the first time in a while. 

This isn't a bad time to back the Tigers, especially since the Gamecocks could have a dastardly time moving the ball on Clemson's stop unit. Brent Venables' group has allowed just 16.4 points per game. In Shane Beamer's first year at South Carolina, his offense is putting up 23.3 points per game, which ranks 104th in college football. 

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One area you need to perform well in to beat Clemson's defense is third downs, and the Gamecocks are 108th in converting those. That means they'll have to stay ahead of the chains and be able to run the ball, the strength of their offense. 

Venables has made a lot of people a lot of money when he gets to scheme against a relatively one-dimensional team. South Carolina doesn't have many scary playmakers outside of receiver Josh Vann and running backs ZaQuandre White and Kevin Harris, so look for Clemson to be aggressive getting after Jason Brown, who was once the third-string quarterback.

In a year where the Tigers are certainly down on offense, South Carolina could be hard-pressed to reach 13 points, meaning Clemson might just need to hit its average of 26 points per game to get the cover. 

Keep in mind, though, that the Gamecocks are 5-2 against the spread vs. Clemson at home in the last seven meetings there, and South Carolina has gone 4-2 against the spread at Williams-Brice Stadium this fall.

The market hasn't really shown an edge either way. The line hasn't moved since it settled Sunday, and there might just not be much interest in this number from the masses, so it's hard to get a good read on which side to pick, unlike last week. 

Betting picks

Spread: Clemson

Total: Under 43.5

Best bet (5-6): Last week was a bad time to pick the under as the Clemson offense exploded for 48 points against a bad Wake Forest defense, so we ended up on the losing side on the season heading into the last regular-season game. In hopes of getting back to .500 heading into the postseason, let's do something vastly different. Now, rarely do we want to lay a huge amount of juice, but we need a win so we're going with a higher-percentage play. It's a double result, meaning we need both sides of the bet to happen, but taking Clemson to lead at the end of the first half and at the end of the game is -240 on FanDuel Sportsbook. No points are needed. Just lead after 30, win the game and cash. You could even parlay it with Clemson -500 moneyline to bring down some of that juice. 

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