If the South Carolina Gamecocks expect to defeat No. 11 Clemson on Saturday, they are going to have to score some points.
While junior quarterback Connor Shaw has been solid this season, the running game won't do enough against the Tigers for South Carolina to eke out a win.
This isn't a matter of the "vaunted" Clemson defense (insert sarcasm here) imposing its will on the Gamecocks' backfield.
No, this is a matter of the running game not being good enough for South Carolina to outscore explosive Clemson without star Marcus Lattimore.
You can talk all you want about the Gamecocks allowing 17.5 points per game this season (13th in the FBS), but they did give up 44 points to Florida and 35 points to Tennessee. Against dangerous offenses, they aren't invincible.
Ever since Lattimore went down against Tennessee, the Gamecocks haven't been as dynamic in the backfield. Sure, they had a good game against FCS opponent Wofford last week, but senior Kenny Miles and freshman Mike Davis combined for 90 rushing yards on 27 carries against SEC opponent Arkansas two weeks ago.
While South Carolina will undoubtedly post some yardage on the ground against a forgiving Clemson run defense, it won't do enough on the ground to outscore the Tigers.
Keep in mind, the Tigers are averaging 44.6 points per game this season (fourth in the nation) and, in addition to dropping 62 points on Maryland last week, racked up 37 points against Florida State's strong defense on Sept. 22.
This team is going to score some points in Clemson on Saturday, regardless of South Carolina's defense. Even if the Gamecocks limit the Tigers, the Tigers may still score around 35 points.
With Lattimore in the backfield, I could see the Gamecocks defeating Clemson on Saturday.
But without him, it's going to be hard for them to do enough damage to overcome Clemson's explosive offensive attack.
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