The power of positive Pigskin Picks thinking is a Citadel/Coastal Carolina parlay. For everyone else in the Palmetto State, it’s OK to look ahead to next week’s Braggin’ Rights battle by keeping an eye on the games within this week’s projected routs.
South Carolina must move the ball with more precision and consistency before facing its most talented foe since the Georgia loss on Sept. 7.
The Gamecocks sputtered for three quarters of their 27-24 double-overtime win at Missouri, needed five turnovers in a 34-16 win over Mississippi State in which they were outgained, and misfired for most of a 19-14 victory over Florida.
Clemson must shore up its run defense before facing Mike Davis in Columbia. The Tigers gave up 248 rushing yards in a 55-31 win over Georgia Tech. Robert Godhigh ran 12 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns (also caught five passes for 103 yards).
Some people think Clemson’s defense is better than advertised in the Tigers’ second season under defensive coordinator Brent Venables. ESPN’s Trevor Matich talks about the “complex zone blitz schemes.”
Clemson is seventh in the ACC in both total defense and rushing defense, but Citadel head coach Kevin Higgins worried while watching tape this week.
“Clemson is untypical,” Higgins said. “This is the most imaginative and most creative defensive play-calling vs. the triple-option that we’ve seen.”
The real test for the Tigers and Gamecocks comes next week. But pay attention to the pop quizzes.
Warren Peper in this second-to-last Pigskin Picks week disagrees with me on a season-high five games:
The Citadel at Clemson
Death Valley will help prepare The Citadel for its game at Florida State on Sept. 6, 2014.
Sapakoff pick: Clemson, 56-17
Peper pick: Clemson, 47-14
Coastal Carolina at USC
Two Palmetto State teams with league championship hopes, but both of them need help.
Sapakoff pick: USC, 42-9
Peper pick: USC, 38-17
Liberty at CSU
Charleston Southern stumbled last week at Gardner-Webb, but at 10-2 can clinch its first-ever FCS playoff spot with a win over formidable Liberty (7-4).
Sapakoff pick: CSU, 24-14
Peper pick: CSU, 24-21
S.C. State at Norfolk State
S.C. State (8-3) is hoping for an FCS playoff bid. Norfolk State is 3-8 but handed MEAC leader Bethune-Cookman its only FCS loss.
Sapakoff pick: S.C. State, 24-17
Peper pick: Norfolk State, 27-21
Texas A&M at LSU
Sugar Bowl implications here. Johnny Football is ratings gold if the Aggies win here and next week at Missouri.
Sapakoff pick: Texas A&M, 31-28
Peper pick: LSU, 38-31
Missouri at Mississippi
The Gamecocks are pulling for a Mizzou loss aside The Grove, or scoreboard watching continues deep into next Saturday night.
Sapakoff pick: Missouri, 31-28
Peper pick: Ole Miss, 32-29
Vanderbilt at Tennessee
Vandy is bowl eligible for the third straight season, a program first. The Vols have lost three in a row (Alabama, Mizzou, Auburn) since a 23-21 victory over South Carolina.
Sapakoff pick: Tennessee, 21-20
Peper pick: Vanderbilt, 24-21
Duke at Wake Forest
Duke controls the ACC Coastal Division title picture but this probably won’t be easy; the Blue Devils last year snapped a 12-game losing streak against Wake Forest.
Sapakoff pick: Duke, 31-28
Peper pick: Duke, 35-24
East Carolina at N.C. State
N.C. State gave up 420 rushing yards — 339 to Andre Williams — in last week’s 38-21 loss at Boston College.
Sapakoff pick: East Carolina, 35-21
Peper pick: East Carolina, 27-20
BYU at Notre Dame
Can’t get over the fact BYU opened with a loss to Virginia. Can’t get over the fact Notre Dame just lost to Pittsburgh.
Sapakoff pick: Notre Dame, 28-24
Peper pick: BYU, 34-30
Last week: Warren Peper 7-3, Gene Sapakoff 5-5
Season: Peper 87-33, Sapakoff 85-35