Media Predictions: USC-Clemson

Each week this season, a panel of media members will make their predictions for South Carolina's upcoming game. How does the panel see today's South Carolina-Clemson game playing out? Find out here.
David Cloninger, GamecockCentral: No, USC doesn't have to win this game. Neither does Clemson, for that matter. And if you ask a lot of folks, the question is not about the talent differential, but if the Gamecocks will be mentally into the game knowing they are headed to Atlanta next week. I don't think it will be a problem, whether they are or aren't, simply due to the talent. Clemson is not a good football team. USC is not a great team, but it has great play-makers, while the Tigers' best of that category (Andre Ellington) is on the bench. The 40-year stretch of futility ends today, and while I don't think it will be a whuppin' satisfactory of wiping out a 63-17 or a 45-0, it will be a win. USC 24, Clemson 20
James Harley, The Side Line: Clemson's offense is simply horrible, ranking 77th in the nation in total scoring. Their only hope is for the game to be a low-scoring, defensive battle, as they have held their last six opponents to 16 points or less, including losses to Florida State and Boston College. However, with USC coming off of a scoring-fest against Troy, and with Lattimore, Jeffery and even Garcia finding their groove at this point, the Tigers will simply not be able to restrain USC like the weaker ACC schools on their schedule. USC 31, Clemson 13
Scott Hood, Clemson's defense has been stout this year, but have they faced a RB/WR combination as good as Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery? I doubt it. Meanwhile, Clemson's offense has struggled against most of their opponents until last week's 'breakout game' at Wake Forest. Without Andre Ellington, I can't see Clemson gaining much ground on the SEC's top-ranked run defense. USC 23, Clemson 13
Will King, 107.5 The Game: The Gamecocks will get there first back-to-back wins in the series in 40 years this weekend. They'll do so because they are simply more talented than Clemson. Clemson will focus all of their efforts on Lattimore (as they should) but still will not be able to stop the superstar. Gamecocks will continue riding high momentum going into the SEC Championship game. USC 27, Clemson 20.
Phil Kornblut, SC Radio Network: This USC football team has made history this season and I expect the Gamecocks to add to that resume Saturday. And that would be with their first back-to-back wins over the Tigers since winning three in a row from 1968-70. Both teams have excellent defenses against the run, and both have been suspect against the pass. I expect USC's defense to have better luck stopping Jamie Harper than Clemson will stopping Marcus Lattimore. And I would look for Stephen Garcia to have success hitting his receivers over the top against a Clemson secondary which has been prone to giving up the big play. The Gamecocks roll on to Atlanta with a win over the Tigers. USC 24, Clemson 17
Kevin McCrarey, SC Radio Network: Reasons why I'm picking Clemson: USC hasn't beat Clemson in back-to-back years since 1970. Gamecocks looking ahead to Auburn. Clemson defense one of the best Gamecocks have faced. Clemson 28, USC 21
Benji Norton, 107.5 The Game: This is the week where thinking with my head goes out the window. On paper South Carolina should win this one hands down. The Tigers are sputtering offensively and the Cocks are on a roll, but if defense wins games, the Tigers have a shot. Clemson 17, USC 14
Roger Olivieri, GamecockCentral: This game is not so simple to predict. It worries me that so many people expect the Gamecocks to just roll over Clemson this weekend. Half the time, I am one of those people. One facet of the game, in particular though, stands out to me - the Clemson defense. Is it good? It sure is. Is it great? Absolutely not. Is it the benefactor of some inflated rankings due to the strength (or lack thereof) of schedule? Yes, sir. Though the defense plays well, I'm not completely sure it can do enough to shut down a South Carolina offense that is clicking. Though the Gamecock defense has been torched here and there, the Clemson offense will not be able to outscore them. USC 31, Clemson 17
Alex Riley, Waxahachie Newpapers: South Carolina has it all going in the right direction. Clemson is limping to finish the season. Sound familiar? Flip the team names and you get last year's matchup. Of course, you probably also get 10 other recent games between these two rivals as well. The good news was last week's thumping of Troy showed that the Gamecocks are not letting up despite bigger games still ahead. In other words, no looking past the Palmetto Bowl. USC 27, Clemson 17
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