Clemson vs. Troy Prediction


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Troy and Clemson have played just one time, a Clemson win in 2011
Troy and Clemson have played just one time, a Clemson win in 2011

Football is back in Death Valley.

One of the nation’s most consistent football programs will take the field Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium against Troy, and there are streaks aplenty that will either continue or be broken.

For instance – Clemson is playing its third consecutive game against a team from Alabama; Clemson has won 16 consecutive games in Death Valley; and head coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have a 41-game winning streak in Death Valley against unranked opponents.

In the consistency department – Clemson has won 15 of its last 16 games dating back to the start of last season. Take it a step further, however, and the Tigers have won 24 of their last 26 games. The losses are to Georgia Tech in November of 2014 (the Deshaun Watson injury game) and the title game to Alabama last January. In fact, Clemson has lost just two games since Sept. 20th of 2014 in a loss at Florida St. Two losses in two calendar years isn’t too shabby.

Troy’s defense is led by Vic Koenning, who was the defensive coordinator at Clemson from 2005-2008.

Troy has defeated a ranked opponent just once in its history, a win over No. 17 Missouri in 2004.

Will this one be close or will the Tigers cruise early?

TROY AT NO. 2 CLEMSON

WHEN: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2016, Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. (EST)
WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C. (81,500)
Tickets: Available ( 800-CLEMSON) or via clemsontigers.com
TV: RSN (Tom Werme, Dave Archer, Roddy Jones)
CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Michael Palmer)
(Sirius Radio ch. 93, XM Radio ch. 205)

THE MATCHUP

WHEN TROY THROWS THE BALL

Clemson’s front four put plenty of pressure on Auburn’s quarterbacks last week, and oftentimes did it without a blitz from the linebacker spot. Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, completing 20 of 27 passes and averaging 8.5 yards per completion. Sawyer Smith saw action as well and threw for 86 yards, completing all seven attempts, and one score. Sophomore wide receiver Ismail Saleem caught four passes for 106 yards to lead the Trojans wideouts in the opener. The Tigers will get pressure from Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell off the edge, while wunderkind Dexter Lawrence, Scott Pagano and Carlos Watkins push from the middle. Clemson’s secondary gets a boost this week with the return of corner Marcus Edmond, who will get the start. ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON.

WHEN TROY RUNS THE BALL

Jordan Chunn rushed for 161 yards and one score last week, and a backup quarterback even had a 50-yard touchdown run. But this week is a different matter – Clemson allowed Auburn to run for just 87 yards on the ground, including an abysmal average on runs up the middle. If the Trojans run to the outside, Clemson’s linebackers will be there to clean it up. ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON.

WHEN CLEMSON THROWS THE BALL

Deshaun Watson passed for 248 yards against Auburn last week, but looked out of synch for much of the evening. Auburn intercepted one pass and could have had interceptions on two others. That has to be cleaned up this week. The good news for Watson is that wide receiver Mike Williams is healthy, and when he’s covered 1-on-1 on the outside Watson has proven he can make the back shoulder throw to perfection. The Clemson offensive line didn’t allow a sack last week, even though there were several close calls and Watson was hit too much. Anchoring the ends for Troy are Preseason All-Sun Belt selection in Rashad Dillard and North Carolina transfer Junior Gnonkonde. Can the Trojans get pressure with the front four? Probably not enough to influence Watson. If they blitz, can Watson make them pay? ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN CLEMSON RUNS THE BALL

Last week was all about Wayne Gallman, who carried the ball 30 times for 123 yards. Adam Choice played just five snaps and Tyshon Dye played just two, so the coaching staff will need to figure out a way to get more players involved in the ground game this week. William Lloyd and Demetrius Cain each started 12 games at linebacker last season for Troy, bringing experience to Koenning’s defense. I expect to see more of Clemson’s perimeter runs this week, including the quick pitch to the wide receiver in motion, after that play almost disappeared last week. ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

Troy rolled out three different kickers for extra point attempts against Austin Peay, but Ryan Kay will start at both kicker and punter and he’s solid in both. Clemson’s special teams were a mixed bag last week – the kickoff coverage was better, but one kickoff went out of bounds, Andy Teasdall did well on punts, a snap was high on one field goal attempt and head coach Dabo Swinney decided to run the ball on fourth down late instead of kicking a field goal. Clemson has to show improvement this week in all phases of the game. Could we finally see a big return on a kickoff? ADVANTAGE: EVEN

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

The heat will be in full effect – these early-season games should start in the late afternoon or evening – and it’s hard to say how many fans will be left in the stands for the start of the third quarter. Clemson will also have too much heat for the Trojans in a game that will be perfect to iron out last week’s mistakes. Clemson needs to show improvement in the passing game, better tempo, better special teams and everybody would love to see Watson look more like the player that’s on the Heisman watch lists. They would also like to see several of the talented freshmen – like Cornell Powell and Tavien Feaster – get their first action. All of that is predicated on Clemson starting quick. They will. CLEMSON 47, TROY 13


GUEST PREDICTIONS
Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 41-17 Clemson
Scott Cole - 12-3 PM on WCCP 105.5FM - 35-13 Clemson
Lawton Swann - 6-8 PM on Fox Sports Radio 1400 and iHeart Radio - 45-14 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 44-10 Clemson
Nikki Steele - Staff writer - 51-17 Clemson
Tom Meares - Staff writer - 55-10 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 55-13 Clemson

GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki SteeleLawton SwannScott ColePigskin Prophet
Auburn19-13 CU37-20 CU31-17 CU31-21 CU35-24 CU38-17 CU31-17 CU44-17 CU
Points - 1411141

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


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