Clemson University

College football today

South Carolina running back Cory Boyd, right, and quarterback Chris Smelley will be leading the Gamecocks today.
South Carolina running back Cory Boyd, right, and quarterback Chris Smelley will be leading the Gamecocks today.

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (3-1, 1-1 SEC) AT NO. 16 USC GAMECOCKS (3-1, 1-1), 12:30 P.M.

• TV: CBS (cable channel 5 in Rock Hill)

• Radio: WRHM-FM (94.3)

• Series record: Tied 6-6

• Last game: USC 15, Mississippi State 0, Aug. 31, 2006, in Starkville, Miss.

• Last week: Mississippi State beat Gardner-Webb 31-15; LSU beat USC 28-16

• Rankings: USC is 16th in the AP poll and 21st in the USA Today/coaches poll. Mississippi State received votes in the USA Today/coaches poll

• Tickets: Sold out

TIGERS' KEYS TO VICTORY

• Sapp -- Marvin Sapp is taking over for middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley this week and has got to prove his worth. If he can handle it against a running team, he accomplishes two goals.

• Scramble -- If Chris Smelley wants to stay the Gamecocks' starting quarterback, he's got to show an ability to avoid a pass-rush

• Tight end -- If USC's receivers keep doing what they've been doing all year -- i.e., not catching the ball -- there's nothing wrong with throwing the out route to the tight end.

PREDICTION

Mississippi State's not as bad as it used to be, which is why USC can't take the Bulldogs lightly. MSU lives for its reputation as a giant-killer -- although the Gamecocks don't qualify as a giant. USC has to get better today because Kentucky's coming in Thursday, which would be enough of a challenge if it was a normal Saturday game. The Gamecocks have the talent to make this game comfortable -- the question is, will they use it?

GAMECOCKS 28, BULLDOGS 15

NO. 16 CLEMSON TIGERS (4-0, 2-0 ACC) AT GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS (2-2, 0-2), 3:30 P.M.

• TV: ABC (cable channel 4 Rock Hill)

• Radio: WRHI-AM (1340)

• Series record: 45-24-2 Georgia Tech

• Last game: Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 7, Oct. 21, 2006, at Clemson

• Last week: Clemson beat N.C. State 42-20; Virginia beat Georgia Tech 28-23

• Rankings: Clemson is 13th in each poll

• Tickets: Sold out

GAMECOCKS' KEYS TO VICTORY

• James -- Last year, Atlanta native James Davis rushed for a career-high 216 yards against his hometown team. He's never been quiet about wanting to prove himself to Tech, so hand off and step out of the way.

• Don't be fooled -- The Tigers' offense is clicking but the talk this week has been how it will adjust to the schemes of Tech coordinator Jon Tenuta. It wasn't a problem last year and shouldn't be this year, as long as the Tigers aren't confused by the constantly shifting and moving linebackers and defensive backs.

• No, really, SPECIAL TEAMS: At what point does Tommy Bowden cave and finally put someone fully in charge of special teams? It hasn't been costing Clemson any games, but the latest debacle was allowing a 97-yard kickoff return last week.

PREDICTION

There's a small concern with past history -- Clemson hasn't won two consecutive-week ACC road games since 2002. But the simple fact is the Tigers are better than Tech. The Jackets have been an up-and-down squad for the past five years and the trick is to catch them when they're down. If Clemson can shut down the Jackets' offense and give James Davis some running room, it'll be a coaster. If it reverts to a close game, the Tigers should still win.

TIGERS 24, YELLOW JACKETS 14

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