Clemson vs. Georgia Tech prediction


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Wayne Gallman rushed 14 times for 86 yards against Tech last season.
Wayne Gallman rushed 14 times for 86 yards against Tech last season.

It’s the Bees and the Tigers in Death Valley. It’s never boring. It’s frequently close and thrilling, and Clemson has had its share of trouble with the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech.

The ACC cross-division rivals renew acquaintances this weekend as No. 6 Clemson looks to win a second conference game while the Yellow Jackets look to snap a three-game losing streak after a promising 2-0 start.

CLEMSON (4-0, 1-0) VS. GEORGIA TECH (2-3, 0-2)

WHEN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2015, 3:36 p.m
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (81,500) Clemson, S.C. (Sold Out)
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch)
CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK: (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Michael PalmerMichael Palmer
Tight End (2006 - 2009)
# 6-4, 228
Lilburn, GA

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)
ESPN RADIO: (Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Joe Schad)
XM Radio: Channel 81

SERIES HISTORY
Overall Record: Tech leads 51-27-2
at Clemson: Clemson Leads 12-6
at Georgia Tech: Tech Leads 44-13-2
First Meeting: Clemson won 23-0
Last Meeting: Tech won 28-6 at Tech

NOTABLE

*Clemson will look to tie the school record for consecutive wins in Clemson Memorial Stadium. Clemson is on a 12-game winning streak in the facility that was built in 1942. The school record for consecutive home wins is 13, set from the first home game of the 2011 season to the middle of the 2013 season when Florida St. ended the streak.

*Clemson has won the last three games played at Clemson, all under Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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. Swinney is 3-1 against Georgia Tech in Memorial Stadium and the only loss took place in 2008 when he had been named interim coach the Monday before the game. Tech won that game, 21-17.

*John Heisman coached at both Clemson and Georgia Tech. He coached the Tigers program from 1900-03 and led the Tigers to a 19-3-2 record and three conference championships. Clemson won the SIAA conference title in 1900, 1902 and 1903 under Heisman and played in its first “postseason” game ever in 1903.

*One of the most unusual statistical occurrences in Clemson history took place during Clemson’s 33-12 victory over Georgia Tech in 1987 at Clemson. Clemson entered the game with a streak of 999 consecutive combined punt returns and kickoff returns without a touchdown dating to 1970. Then, on the 1000th return, Donnell Woolford raced 78 yards with a punt return for a touchdown. Then, later in the game Joe Henderson returned a kickoff return 95 yards for a touchdown. It is one of just two games in Clemson history that the Tigers have returned a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown . The other took place in 2009 when Clemson defeated Middle Tennessee State.

WHEN GEORGIA TECH HAS THE BALL
Justin Thomas is the perfect quarterback for Paul Johnson’s system. Thomas is 13-6 in his first 19 career starts at QB, including a 3-2 record versus ranked teams. He’s 2-2 versus Top 10 teams, beating SEC foes No. 9 Georgia and No. 7 Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl. Despite the run-based offense, Thomas has thrown a touchdown pass in nine straight games dating back to last season, the longest streak for a quarterback under Johnson. However, Tech has had trouble moving the ball over the last three weeks when it counts, and there isn’t just one reason. Inexperience at A-back, poor blocking and some head-scratching decisions by Thomas have led to the miscues. The Yellow Jackets have lost five fumbles and Thomas has tossed two interceptions, and the turnover margin hasn’t been what it was last season.

Tech is averaging 30 less yards per game from last season and doesn’t sit in the nation’s Top 40 in total offense. For Clemson, the key players just might be ends Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
Jr. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 272
Central, SC

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and Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 268
Taylors, SC

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. Both players have been stout against the run, and are important cogs when it comes to “setting the edge” and playing with gap integrity. Defenses have taken away Thomas’ option on the pitch over the last three games, and they could run into more of the same Saturday. Two other keys could be safeties Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
Jr. Safety
#1 6-4, 224
Fort Myers, FL

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and T.J. GreenT.J. Green
Jr. Safety
#15 6-3, 203
Sylacauga, AL

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. Both have been solid in run support, but if they get caught crashing the line or peeking into the backfield Thomas can burn them deep. Tech is ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense and Clemson is 25th nationally in rushing defense – something has to give Saturday. The one that blinks will lose.

ADVANTAGE: SLIGHT TO CLEMSON BECAUSE THEY ARE PLAYING BETTER RIGHT NOW

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

Clemson’s offense has yet to be explosive in games that really matter, and it’s cause for concern. Certain receivers are showing very little fight, and Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 207
Gainesville, GA

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can’t seem to find a groove. Is it the play calling? Is it execution? Has it been dicated by the weather and the defenses? Probably a little bit of all. Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
So. Wide Receiver
#3 5-10, 191
Oldsmar, FL

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had three catches for just 19 yards a year ago against Tech, a result of Watson’s first half injury and resultant poor quarterback play. Scott had a big catch early last week against Notre Dame, but it’s time for the Clemson coaching staff to get the Florida native a lot of touches. Speaking of playing time and a lot of touches - running back Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS So. Running Back
#9 6-1, 210
Loganville, GA

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has been carrying this offense – right behind left tackle Mitch HyattMitch Hyatt
Fr. Offensive Line
#75 6-6, 285
Sugar Hill, GA

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and left guard Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#78 6-4, 315
Hope Mills, NC

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– as the Tigers put up over 200 rushing yards last week against Notre Dame.

So what do we expect this week? Hopefully more balance. Tech’s rush defense hasn’t been spectacular, and Watson averaged 5.7 yards per carry last week, and I expect the Tigers to once again make him a major part of the rushing game plan. UNC dual-threat quarterback Marquise Williams led the Tar Heels to the biggest comeback in school history (21 points) with 15 rushes for 148 yards (9.9 yards per rush) with two touchdowns in the Heels’ 38-31 victory over Tech last week. Gallman will do his usual work, so that leaves the passing game. Can it finally get untracked? My unsolicited advice to the offensive coaches….play the kids. Play Deon CainDeon Cain
Fr. Wide Receiver
#8 6-1, 197
Tampa, FL

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and Ray-Ray McCloudRay-Ray McCloud
Fr. Wide Receiver
#34 5-9, 181
Land O' Lakes, FL

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and Trevion ThompsonTrevion Thompson
RS Fr. Wide Receiver
#1 6-2, 193
Durham, NC

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. See if they can help Watson get it going. We might have gotten a sneak peak at the plan earlier this week when Swinney said he hoped the weather held off because Clemson was ready to unveil the Air Force. If the Tigers can get it going through the air, then….

ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

Tech kicker Harrison Butker is 3-for-5 this season on field goals and does a decent job on kickoffs, with 21-of-34 attempts not returned. Senior punt returner Jamal Golden is dangerous – he has seven returns for 131 yards this season and is averaging 18.71 yards per return. He hasn’t been quite as explosive on kickoff returns and is averaging just 22 yards per return. Tech did allow a kickoff return for a touchdown at Duke. Punter Ryan Rodwell is serviceable, averaging 40 yards per punt.

Artavis Scott has given Clemson a spark in the kickoff return game –he’s averaging 27 yards per return – and McCloud has a 73-yarder to his credit. The Tigers are getting better there and have been close to breaking one. This could be the week. Clemson still has issues at kickoff return defense – Louisville returned one for a touchdown and Notre Dame was a Jayron Kearse tackle away from another. Ammon LakipAmmon Lakip
RS Sr. Punter / Kicker
#36 5-11, 200
Alpharetta, GA

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is back and handling kickoffs, but we don’t know how effective he can be because of the weather last week. Punt returns? The Tigers sit 120th out of 127 teams, averaging just 1.20 yards per return. Andy TeasdallAndy Teasdall
RS Jr. Punter
#32 5-11, 188
Winston-Salem, NC

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has been better than expected at punter the last few weeks, and kicker Greg HuegelGreg Huegel
Fr. Punter / Kicker
#92 5-11, 180
Blythewood, SC

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is 5-7 on field goals.

Honestly…this is a wash, but the team that gets the big return might get the momentum.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

I’m a big believer in the hangover effect, something Clemson will have to overcome after last week’s big win. The Jackets will come out desperate and playing for their conference lives, and that makes them more dangerous than usual. I expect Tech defensive coordinator Ted Roof to sell out to stop the run and – get this – make Watson beat them through the air. If the Tigers continue to be predictable on first and second down, that could set up Roof’s exotic blitz packages. Can the Tigers then protect Watson well enough to give him time?

The Jackets will hit some plays on offense. That’s a given. But Dodd and Lawson and those cats on defense are fairly salty this season, and it won’t be easy. Clemson does enough defensively and the offense finally finds a rhythm in the second half and begins to pull away. But it’s never comfortable.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 30, GEORGIA TECH 21


GUEST PREDICTIONS
Mickey Plyler - 6AM-9AM EST on WCCP 105.5FM - 35-17 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 31-17 Clemson
Nikki Steele - Staff writer - 38-17 Clemson
Lawton Swann - Clemson Sports Talk / TigerNet Talk - Coming Soon
Pigskin Prophet - 33-21 Clemson


GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki SteeleLawton SwannPigskin Prophet
Wofford49-10 CU41-13 CU41-17 CU52-13 CU42-17 CU47-13 CU47-13 CU
App St41-10 CU37-17 CU42-17 CU41-14 CU45-13 CU45-17 CU42-17 CU
Lou20-17 CU28-20 CU34-24 CU31-20 CU28-17 CU35-20 CU34-21 CU
ND24-22 CU24-21 CU27-24 CU28-24 CU20-14 CU26-17 CU23-20 CU
Points - 646666

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

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