Dan Scott: Clemson - Ga. Tech Prediction
Through seven games the Tigers are 6-1 and ranked No. 12 in the country. Picking games, I'm 5-2 and, while ranked nowhere near that high, my stats this season are infinitely better than they have been the past two years.
But now it gets tough. The schedule strength picks up. Now we test the newfound confidence of the Magic Helmet.
No. 13 Georgia Tech at No. 12 Clemson
When Clemson Has The Ball
There are basically two keys here. First, the Tigers must have success running the football. Not 300-plus yards success. But above 150 yards, and preferably closer to 175 or more. Consistent success running the ball eventually can slow Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta's constant five-man pressure package. That will buy Will Proctor more time in the pocket. Which brings us to the second key. Proctor, who will see pressure coming from all angles, can't make the major mistake. Protect the football at all costs. Sounds simple, doesn't it? If only it were so easy.
ADVANTAGE - Slim to Clemson
When Ga. Tech Has The Ball
Yellow Jacket quarterback Reggie Ball's track record says if you can keep him in the pocket and make him throw from there he'll ultimately make the big mistake. But offensive coordinator Patrick Nix's game plan usually doesn't call for Ball to spend much time back there. The result has been, to this point, Ball's most consistent season throwing the football. Can the Tigers find a way to limit Calvin Johnson for the second straight year? Will Choice in the backfield be the X-factor? Vic Koening's defense has its work cut out for it, to be sure.
ADVANTAGE - Slim to Ga. Tech
Tech's radio play-by-play voice, Wes Durham, joked on my radio show Friday that this game might be the first one in recent memory to have the opening kickoff returned for a touchdown, and the ensuing kick also taken back for a score. It would be 7-7 before the ball was ever snapped. Joking? Perhaps. But statistically Tech's kickoff coverage team has been as bad, maybe worse, than Clemson's. Got your track shoes handy?
ADVANTAGE - Even
Patrick Nix has been a great addition to Chan Gailey's staff, and we all know how well Tenuta's defense usually plays. But Rob Spence, Koening and Co. have more than justified Bowden's bringing them aboard a year ago. Watching these four coordinators go at each other Saturday night should be fun.
ADVANTAGE - Even
In a series as close, and perhaps wacky, as this one has been over the last 10 years, one would expect another tight game. And it will be, until the Tigers' rotation of running backs ultimately wears down the Tech defensive front seven as the fourth quarter rolls on. With ESPN's A-Team on site, the Tigers impress down the stretch and win their sixth in a row.
Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 20