Clemson vs. Georgia prediction


by - Senior Writer -
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In case you haven’t heard, there are big things happening in Clemson this Saturday.

The Clemson Tigers open the season against the Georgia Bulldogs, renewing what was once a sizzling rivalry between the two schools that sit less than 100 miles apart. This year, both schools have national title hopes and a win on Saturday would go a long way towards that goal.

Both teams feature dynamic offenses and have questions on defense. Georgia has quarterback Aaron Murray and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, while the Tigers have quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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and a bevy of talented wide receivers, including a rejuvenated Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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.

This one ought to be a good one for the GameDay folks, the fans in attendance, and the people watching on national television.

WHAT:No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson
WHERE:Memorial Stadium (85,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN:Saturday, August 31st, Sometime after 8 p.m.
SPREAD:Georgia -1.5
TV:ABC

The Georgia gameplan should be fairly easy to figure out – run Gurley and Marshall, control the clock and let Murray take his chances down the field with the play-action pass. The news for Clemson in the secondary has not been good the last couple of seasons, and there are still a ton of questions heading into this season. And I might be different than most people – I think the corners will be ok during this game. The players who are going to play – Bashaud BreelandBashaud Breeland
RS Jr. Cornerback
#17 6-0, 195
Allendale, SC

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, Garry PetersGarry Peters
RS Jr. Cornerback
#26 6-0, 195
Conyers, GA

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, Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
RS Jr. Cornerback
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

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and Darius RobinsonDarius Robinson
Cornerback
#8 5-10, 175
College Park, GA

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– all have experience, and Peters played well at the end of last season. The question is at the spots manned by Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
So. Defensive Back
#11 6-0, 190
Tallahassee, FL

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and Robert SmithRobert Smith
Jr. Safety
#27 5-10, 210
St. George, SC

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. Both players are going to be good, but young safeties have a tendency to peak into the backfield and get beat over the top. Heck, Clemson’s experienced safeties got beat that way the last two seasons. If the Bulldogs are able to establish the run – watch out for those sweeps with Gurley and Marshall – look for Murray and company to try and hit the big play down the field. Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns on 222 carries last season, while Marshall ran 117 times for 759 yards and eight scores. They return every starter on the offensive line, so that group is experienced. Clemson’s front seven needs to get pressure on Murray early and often – Murray has a tendency to throw into coverage under pressure – and control the running game. If they don’t, it could be a long night.

It all starts with Boyd, the triggerman for Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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’ offense. Boyd is missing three valuable weapons from last season – running back Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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, tight end Brandon FordBrandon Ford
Tight End
#80 6-4, 240
Wando, SC

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and wide receiver DeAndre HopkinsDeAndre Hopkins
Wide Receiver
#6 6-2, 205
Central, SC

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Hopkins. Can the Tigers find replacements for those workhorses? The answer is yes, but there are questions surrounding the running back rotation, where senior Roderick McDowell gets his first chance to start, and with a thin tight end group. The good news is that Watkins looks even better than he did his freshman season and Boyd has weapons all over the field with burners like Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Jr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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, Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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and Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#5 6-0, 170
Charlotte, NC

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, newcomer Mike WilliamsMike Williams
Fr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-5, 205
Vance, SC

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and the ever-steady Adam HumphriesAdam Humphries
Jr. Wide Receiver
#13 5-11, 190
Spartanburg, SC

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. If the Tigers can establish any kind of running game to take the pressure off of Boyd and can find an answer at tight end among Darrell SmithDarrell Smith
Gr. Fullback
#40 6-1, 250
Gadsden, AL

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, Stanton SeckingerStanton Seckinger
RS So. Tight End
#81 6-4, 210
Isle of Palms, SC

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and Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
Fr. Tight End
#16 6-6, 235
Navarre, FL

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, Boyd and the offense should be better than ever. Four starters return on the offensive line, and Georgia has a suspect and young secondary and inexperience along the defensive line. MLB Amarlo Herrera is the team’s top returning tackler – he had 70 last season – after starting nine games. Big DE Garrison Smith had 57 tackles last season. Josh Harvey-Clemons will be the starting safety for the Bulldogs, but he won’t play Saturday as he serves a one game suspension. He could be replaced by Connor Norman – a walk-on that originally signed with Presbyterian. Boyd just needs to play like he did against LSU and not repeat his South Carolina performances, especially if the Bulldogs get ahead early. On a big night, in front of a big crowd with big implications, Boyd and the offense show up.

The Tigers return All-American kicker Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
Gr. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 195
Greenville, SC

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, who missed one field goal last season, and feature the big leg of Bradley PinionBradley Pinion
So. Punter
#92 6-5, 230
Concord, NC

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at punter and on kickoffs. The Tigers suffered in the return game last season - on offense and defense – and need to cure those ills if they want to have a good season. The word is that Watkins will be more of a factor in the return game this season, and the hope of the coaches is that he can replicate some of his freshman performances. For Georgia, we don’t know the status of kicker Marshall Morgan, who was arrested over the summer for boating under the influence. Georgia head coach Mark Richt has said that there won’t be a formal announcement regarding Morgan, and we will either see him kick or we won’t. The guess is that we see him at some point Saturday, but if he sits out the entire game the pendulum swings in Clemson’s favor. If he plays the entire game, things are a little more even.

Both teams will score points and move the football – the big key will be whether Clemson can control Gurley and still run its own offense. We’ve heard good things about the front seven during the spring and fall camp and they played well against LSU, but let’s face facts – it looked like a 12-year old was calling plays for LSU in the bowl game. Georgia won’t have that problem, and Murray is facing a secondary that we simply don’t know anything about. If Boyd gets into a rhythm, look out. Same thing goes for Murray, who also has a lot of weapons at his disposal. If you think the offenses even out and the defenses even out, then Clemson gets the edge in the kicking game and the homefield advantage. Defensive end Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
RS Jr. Defensive End
#3 6-3, 225
Adairsville, GA

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announces himself to the nation by pressuring Murray, and even though Gurley gets 100 yards, the Tigers get the big kick at the end from their All-American. It will be high-scoring, but not as high as some people think.


GUEST PREDICTIONS
Mickey Plyler - 6-9AM on WCCP 104.9FM EST - 31-28 Clemson
Nikki Steele - TigerNet Writer - 31-28 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - TigerNet's Associate Editor - 34-31 Clemson
Lawton Swann - Clemson Sports Talk / TigerNet Talk - 37-31 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 39-34 Clemson
Butt-Head - Friend of the Prophet who said anyone could do this - 48-31 Clemson


GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki SteeleLawton SwannEl SwannPigskin Prophet
Georgia?37-34 CU31-28 CU31-28 CU34-31 CU37-31 CU39-34 CU
Points - 000000

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 1pt for picking the correct winner

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