Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Rivalry week. A week of being thankful for all that is good in the world and hating all that is orange. This time of year Clemson fans love to talk about how good they are or how good their players are this season. Two years ago, it was how Da'quan Bowers was the best defensive player in the country. Bowers had only three tackles and had his worst game of the season against USC. Then last year, all Clemson fans could talk about was how "the greatest freshman to every play was going to burn USC's defense." Well Sammy Watkins had four catches for 39 yards and dropped a touchdown pass. This year all we have heard about is how Tajh Boyd is the greatest QB, and he should be a Heisman finalist. Well lets see how he performs this Saturday against South Carolina.
What you need to know about the Tater's offense: Clemson puts up big numbers in a conference that doesn't play defense. This season the Tigers are averaging 44.6 points and 535.6 yards. The Tigers have plenty of speed and will look to spread the ball around between Ellington, Watkins and Hopkins.
Tajh Boyd is the ACC leader in pass efficiency, completing 68% of his passes. On the season, the he has passed for 3367 yards and 33 touchdowns. Boyd has also rushed for 466 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Tigers top rusher is Andre Ellington, cousin of Gamecock Bruce Ellington, who has 959 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. The tater's top receiver has been DeAndre Hopkins who has put up monster numbers this season. Hopkins has 1171 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns this year.
Tigers on defense: Clemson this season has played defense a couple of times. They are giving up 24 points and 408 total yards per game in 2012. If Clemson was in the SEC, their defense would rank 9th in scoring defense and 12th in total defense, just above Auburn.
The Tigers are led by linebacker Spencer Shuey, who has the team lead in tackles with 82. Defensive end Vic Beasley leads the team in sacks with eight.
What might happen on Saturday: Clemson is going to score and move the ball. That is what their team is built on. Look for Spurrier to once again have a game plan that takes Watkins and Hopkins speed out of the game. The game will come down to whether or not the Gamecocks front seven can get pressure on Boyd. Boyd has proven in the past, that if under pressure he will make mistakes. Look for Clowney and Taylor to both have big games.
As for the Gamecocks offense, if Connor Shaw can not play, Dylan Thompson better be ready. The last time Thompson played on the road, it did not look so good. I have a feeling Shaw will play no matter what. Look for Bruce Ellington to once again have a big game, and Kenny Miles to rush for more than 100 yards. Last year, Miles rushed for 80 yards in the absence of Lattimore. Mike Davis will also get his carries, proving to the Clemson fan's that he will be better then his brother.
In the end South Carolina's defense will prove to be the difference. Clemson will try to get pretty and run some trick plays, but USC's defense has speed as well. The secondary has played well all year, and I don't think this will be any different.
Prediction time: USC 36 Tater Salad 28
Students: 15,836 undergrads
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (39-20 in 5th season as head cheerleader)
2012 Record: 10-1 overall, 7-1 ACC
Vs. USC: Clemson leads the series 61-38-4, but USC has won the last 3 in a row.
Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.