No. 7 Clemson seems to have the Orange Bowl bid locked up … barring either a series of extraordinary events around the country or an utter collapse in its final tuneup before the Gamecocks. The Tigers can only control one of those things at noon Saturday against The Citadel:
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
The trouble with consecutively blowing out opponents by 49, 24 and whatever the margin is Saturday is the worry of getting complacent. South Carolina is going to be far, far more physical than any other team Clemson has played this year outside of Florida State and maybe Georgia, which obviously each presented Clemson issues. This rare opportunity to go out-of-conference to precede the USC showdown should not serve as an excuse for the Tigers to lose whatever edge they’ve got right now.
DON’T SHOW TOO MUCH
Jeff Hartsell, our Post and Courier veteran reporter covering The Citadel, makes an excellent point: Because this is the Bulldogs’ final game of the year, expect them to throw the kitchen sink at Clemson in the form of trick plays, wacky formations and fourth-down attempts galore. And good on them; hopefully the Bulldogs find some success and go out on a nice note. But Clemson’s got bigger fish to fry … er, chickens to roast, or something like that. Hold on to those cards, don’t give away too much to the upcoming opponent.
HAVE SOME FUN
It’s Senior Day. It’s Military Appreciation Day. It’s Purple Out Day. So many reasons to celebrate at Memorial Stadium, and it’s a day to honor the super-accomplished senior class headlined by Tajh Boyd and supported by multiple award-laden Tigers making their final trek down The Hill at Death Valley. Enjoy it. Savor it. And look to give the walk-ons some playing time by the third quarter.
We could pretend this might be a close game, but history would strongly differ: Clemson’s won the last 15 matchups dating back to 1931, by a margin of 390-58. Certainly, Clemson looks to extend is second-longest streak in the nation to 18 consecutive victories by double digits over unranked opponents; the average margin of triumph over that span is 27 points. This one should reach that ledger around halftime, and go from there, especially because backup quarterbacks Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly are playing well and still auditioning for 2014.
Clemson 63, The Citadel 7
— Aaron Brenner