AP NEWS

No. 4 Clemson seeking rivalry win to make playoffs

November 23, 2016

South Carolina (6-5) at No. 4 Clemson (10-1, No. 4 CFP), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Clemson by 24.

Series record: Clemson leads 67-42-4.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Clemson is trying to reach the College Football Playoffs while South Carolina will look for perhaps its biggest takedown ever in the annual rivalry game between the Palmetto State’s two biggest teams. A loss could cost the Tigers a place in the four-team chase for a national title.

KEY MATCHUP

South Carolina RB Rico Dowdle against Clemson’s defensive line. The Gamecocks have pulled off a second-half surge to a bowl bid with Dowdle, the freshman runner, one of the biggest reasons. Dowdle ran for over 100 yards in three of the past four games. He will be tested by a Clemson front line — led by DE Christian Wilkins — that has limited opponents to 129 yards rushing a game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

South Carolina: QB Jake Bentley. The Gamecocks freshman passer has led the second-half resurgence with a strong arm and solid mobility. He’s thrown six TD passes, starting the past five games.

Clemson: QB Deshaun Watson. In what’s expected to be Watson’s final game at Death Valley, the Tigers junior will look to fulfill his youthful promise to "never lose to the Gamecocks." So far, he’s 2-0.

FACTS & FIGURES

It’s been a rivalry of runs in recent years. Clemson is looking for its third straight win in the series. Before that, South Carolina had an unprecedented five straight wins over the Tigers. ... The Gamecocks returned to a bowl last week with a 44-31 win over Western Carolina. They had missed out on the postseason when they went 3-9 in 2015. ... Watson is the ACC’s active career leader in total offense with 10,579 yards. ... Dowdle’s 226 yards rushing last week was the most for South Carolina since Marcus Lattimore had 246 yards in a 2011 win over Navy. ... The Palmetto Bowl was first contested in 1896 with the Gamecocks winning that first matchup, 12-6.