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Monday Notes: Heavyweight Fight on Deck

Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

It's finally here. After weeks of a lackluster slate slate of ACC foes, Clemson-South Carolina week is upon us. The biggest problems in years past for this program has been keeping this team focused and last Saturday that appeared to have taken a turn for the worse for about a quarter and a half. Thankfully, the Tigers woke up, turned on the jets (at least on offense) and captured their tenth win of the season. The offense did what they've been doing all season, score at will, amassing video game numbers and points. The defense, was not pretty, and Venables' unit got torched through the air time and time again.

Brent Venables admitted he saw some "bad football" Saturday afternoon. Clemson’s defense regressed against N.C. State and quarterback Mike Glennon, allowing 48 points and 597 yards of total offense. Glennon threw for 493 yards and five touchdowns, keeping Memorial Stadium on edge and keeping Venables more than engaged for three-plus quarters.

As for our neighbors in Columbia, they didn't exactly look like gangbusters in the first half on Saturday either, and went into halftime tied Wofford. I get the sense that Spurrier still doesn't trust Shaw, who didn't exactly light up the scoreboard. It's hard to tell just how vanilla the Gamecocks were keeping things on Saturday with Clemson on deck. I tend to gives teams the benefit of the doubt when there are huge games the following week, and I think it's safe to say the South Carolina team we will see will be much different.

There are two possible responses to this game. One is that we were looking ahead to Clemson, which is understandable. Even with it being the final home game, it was probably hard for our guys to get up for this one, with a huge showdown against the Tigers coming the following week. On the other hand, I think it has to be said that if our offense struggles against Clemson like it did this week, we’re going to be in trouble. We’re going to have to score points to beat Clemson.

The most anticipated matchup on Saturday pits the Clemson offense vs. the South Carolina defense. This will be the second legitimate top 15 defense the Tigers will have faced this season, the first being Florida State. The Gamecock defensive line will certainly pose its problems for Chad Morris to scheme around. However, the fact that Clemson was able to amass 400+ yards and 37 points, on the road, in a hostile Tallahassee environment against a very good defense gives me hope that Clemson can put up similar production on Saturday. And we'll be doing it in the friendly confines of Death Valley.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd: He became the first player in ACC history to account for eight touchdowns in a game, as he led the Tigers to a share of the Atlantic Division title with a 62-48 win over NC State. The Wolfpack led 24-13 in the second quarter before Clemson scored 42 straight points. Boyd accounted for every Clemson touchdown. He was 30-for-44 for 426 yards and ran for 105 yards -- a school-record 531 total yards.

On the other side of the ball things aren't as pretty. Just when we thought this team was making strides on defense, they surrender 48 points at home, giving up almost 500 yards. Eeesh. The problems weren't on the ground, they were where they've been all season long, through the air. Clemson continues to have brutally bad problems with breakdowns and missed assignments in the secondary. On Saturday it got so bad at times that NC State receivers were running free down sidelines, with no safety help, and walking into endzones. We cannot afford that to happen on Saturday.

Vegas opened the line this evening with Clemson as four point favorites. The line is about where I thought it would be and basically tells us that when you factor in 4 points for home field, this game would be a pickem on a neutral field. These teams are insanely close on paper. What happens Saturday who knows, but Vegas thinks that there is very little that separates these two squads, and I tend to agree with them.

Current streak: South Carolina has won 3 straight games. Clemson has won 7 straight games. Team records: South Carolina: 9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS Clemson: 10-1 SU, 8-3 ATS

Everything comes down to Saturday. If Clemson has any hope of a BCS bowl it has to take care of business on Saturday. But more than anything this is about respect and right now Clemson doesn't have much of it from the boys in Columbia. They own us the last three years, they've taken what's rightfully ours, and until we take it back, they are the kings of the Palmetto State. Three in a row is unacceptable, four in a row would be a colossal failure. I hope the boys in Orange bring their big boy pants on Saturday. It's time to knock some heads off and restore order in this state.