COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) - South Carolina and Clemson are set to face off as top 10 ranked teams for the first time in rivalry history. The Gamecocks (9-2) are looking for their fifth straight victory over the Tigers (10-1) and will try for their 18th straight victory at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Few would argue the notion that both teams are better this season than they were last season. Clemson is much-improved along both lines of scrimmage. The group is competitive on both lines of scrimmage, which wasn't the case in this game a year ago. South Carolina is more efficient on offense while many of the defensive numbers from a year ago are pretty similar.
While both are improved, South Carolina is still the better team where it counts the most in a rivalry game - along the line of scrimmage. The Gamecocks have an experienced group of offensive linemen that will match up well with the Tigers' defensive front. Clemson, on the other hand, are going to have to figure out a way to block Clowney and Quarles. South Carolina has had great success getting to Boyd in recent years and for Clemson to pull the upset, that has to change this year.
South Carolina has flipped the script in the rivalry the four years and has been the better team each time out. Clemson is playing very good football right now while the Gamecocks haven't played a complete game against an FBS team since October.
That being said, the Gamecocks have a 17-game home winning streak and a lot to play for on Saturday night. Shaw has been unbeatable at Williams-Brice Stadium, this series hasn't been particularly close since South Carolina started winning and the strides made by the Tigers from last year to this year isn't quite enough to close that gap. If the Clemson offensive line can figure out a way to slow down South Carolina's defensive front, it will be a close game that the Tigers could win. If not, it could go two scores in South Carolina's favor. Clowney and the Gamecocks should walk out of Williams-Brice with a victory by about a touchdown.
Prediction: CAROLINA 34 - CLEMSON 27