SAPAKOFF COLUMN: Pigskin Picks: Why Clemson will defeat the Gamecocks
CLEMSON — Strange things can happen when Gamecocks and Tigers gather on a football field. In 1928, injured All-American O.K. Pressley came off the Clemson bench during the second half to make four consecutive tackles for lost yardage in a 32-0 victory over South Carolina in Columbia.
O.K. Pressley won't be available tonight at Death Valley.
It won't be a shutout.
But three key indicators tilt toward the Tigers:
• Clemson had injury issues the last three years (C.J. Spiller in 2009, Kyle Parker in 2010, Sammy Watkins in 2011) and now it's South Carolina. Running back Marcus Lattimore is out for the season. Quarterback Connor Shaw and sack artist Jadeveon Clowney apparently are hobbled.
• Shaw as a starting quarterback has won only one road game without Lattimore in the lineup, and that was throwing for 87 yards last season in a 14-3 victory at mediocre Tennessee.
• Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has made game-changing progress as a runner.
It won't take perfection, but Shaw and Co. have little room for error.
I was perfect last week, 10-0. But so were almost a thousand Pigskin Picks players.
USC at Clemson
Strange for highly ranked teams to have such poor turnover margins: Minus four for the No. 12 Tigers; plus two for the No. 13 Gamecocks. Truly amazing: Clemson has scored 111 points off 17 turnovers and allowed only 34 points off 21 turnovers.
Sapakoff pick: Clemson, 34-28
Peper pick: Clemson, 30-24
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Hard to believe after a 35-7 loss in Columbia, but Jarvis Jones and friends are three wins away from a national title.
Sapakoff pick: Georgia, 31-20
Peper pick: Georgia, 34-17
Florida at Florida State
The Gators are better than the 2011 team that lost this game, 21-7, while holding the Seminoles to 95 yards of total offense. But Florida struggled against Missouri, Louisiana- Lafayette and Jacksonville State.
Sapakoff pick: FSU, 17-14
Peper pick: FSU, 28-19
Vandy at Wake Forest
The most overlooked SEC-ACC showdown and probably the most lopsided.
Sapakoff pick: Vanderbilt, 31-10
Peper pick: Vanderbilt, 21-12
Maryland at North Carolina
No truth to the rumor the ACC office has asked North Carolina to run up the score on the Terrapins, bound for Big Ten cash.
Sapakoff pick: UNC, 28-7
Peper pick: UNC, 20-9
Boston College at North Carolina State
Mike Glennon is doing a brilliant Phillip Rivers impression as Wolfpack quarterback.
Sapakoff pick: N.C. State, 27-14
Peper pick: N.C. State, 24-14
Kentucky at Tennessee
By SEC rule, one of these teams must win. Vols junior QB Tyler Bray sticks out in perhaps his last college game.
Sapakoff pick: Tennessee, 42-10
Peper pick: Tennessee, 34-17
Missouri at Texas A&M
Another starry performance by Johnny “Football” Manziel might secure the Heisman Trophy, though Kansas State's Collin Klein seems more deserving.
Sapakoff pick: Texas A&M, 35-13
Peper pick: Texas A&M, 40-20
Oregon at Oregon State
Beavers eager for The Civil War after the Duck dynasty was upended by Stanford. Neon endures.
Sapakoff pick: Oregon, 28-21
Peper pick: Oregon, 48-27
Notre Dame at Southern Cal
Irish roster includes quarterback Everett Golson (Myrtle Beach High School) and wide receiver Chris Brown (Hanahan High School).
Sapakoff pick: Notre Dame, 24-14
Peper pick: Notre Dame, 21-17
Last week: Sapakoff 10-0, Peper 9-1
Season: Sapakoff 91-29, Peper 83-37
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff