Even a disappointing season can be salvaged with a win over a bitter rival, which is what South Carolina and No. 24 Clemson hope to deliver when they square off Saturday in Death Valley. The host Tigers look to snap a five-game losing streak to the hated Gamecocks and perhaps improve their bowl prospects, while South Carolina needs a win to avoid its first six-loss season since 2009. The series dates to 1896 and the Palmetto State rivals have met every season since 1909, the second-longest consecutively played rivalry in the nation.
The five-game winning streak against Clemson is South Carolina's longest in the series, surpassing a four-game run from 1951-54. "It's not something that's ruined our six years here, but it's something that we've got to get changed," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters. "It really is a season of its own. You have the season, and then you have South Carolina." The Gamecocks have won 19 consecutive non-conference games overall and 24 straight in the regular season.
TV: Noon, ESPN. LINE: Clemson -4.5.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (6-5): The Gamecocks can't help but think about what might have been, as four of their five losses have come by a touchdown or less and they were tied or ahead in the fourth quarter of all four. South Carolina is on pace to set a school record for points and is averaging 34.8 points behind an offense led by quarterback Dylan Thompson (3,031 yards, 23 TDs, 11 interceptions), running back Mike Davis (888 yards, 9 TDs) and receiver Pharoh Cooper (58 receptions, 921 yards, 8 TDs). The defense has struggled, though, allowing 42 or more points in four of the five losses and giving up 428.4 total yards per contest.
ABOUT CLEMSON (8-3): The big question for the Tigers is who will be under center, as freshman Deshaun Watson is nursing a knee injury that prompted Cole Stoudt to reclaim the starting role in last week's 28-0 win over Georgia State. Watson has taken much better care of the ball since taking over, throwing for 12 TDs against two interceptions and adding three rushing scores, while Stoudt has six TDs and nine picks and is not much of a threat to run. It might not matter who gets the nod if Clemson's defense plays to its potential, as the Tigers lead the nation in total defense (252.5 yards per game) with star pass rusher Vic Beasley leading the way.
1. Clemson has committed 15 turnovers in its five consecutive losses to South Carolina while the Gamecocks have only three giveaways during the streak.
2. Thompson needs 176 passing yards to break Todd Ellis' single-season school record of 3,206 in 1987.
3. Davis needs 112 rushing yards to surpass 1,000 for the second consecutive season, joining Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers as the only players in South Carolina history with two 1,000-yard rushing campaigns.
PREDICTION: Clemson 30, South Carolina 27