Clemson vs Auburn prediction
|Friday, September 17, 2010 10:42 AM- -|
The scrimmages are over, and it’s time for some big boy football.
The Clemson Tigers will take a trip down to the Plains of Auburn on Friday in anticipation of Saturday matchup. Kickoff is at 7:06 p.m., against their mirror image from the SEC.
Depending on which poll you look at, the home team is ranked either 15th or 16th in the country, and they have a big old quarterback in Cam Newton who will try to give the Clemson defense fits. And if you listen to all of the pundits, Newton will rush for 627 yards in the first quarter and the Clemson Tigers will be found cowering behind an ACC logo.
In honor of GameDay being at Auburn on Saturday, we invoke the spirit of ESPN’s Lee Corso when we say, “Not so fast, my friend.”
It’s true: Auburn has the advantages on their side, but this one already has the feel of a good old-fashioned, down-to-the-wire slugfest.
Clemson at Auburn
When Clemson Has the Ball
Watching Auburn play against both Arkansas St. and Miss. St., it became apparent that defensive coordinator Ted Roof isn’t into a lot of trickery. Auburn lined up in a lot of Cover 4, Cover 2 and Tampa 2, and it was apparent against Miss. St. that if the Bulldogs had a quarterback with ANY accuracy, he could picked Auburn apart. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker is 15-26 for 283 yards and four touchdowns so far this season, and if the offensive line can give him time to throw, he could have a big day. My gut feeling is that Auburn, knowing how dangerous Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper are, will load the box and force Parker to find tight end Dwayne Allen or one of his receivers. The best-case scenario is that Clemson is able to run at will and Parker can find the holes in the zone enough to keep the chains moving. Yes, Auburn’s defense played well last week, and they have top-flight players in DE Antoine Carter and DT Nick Fairley, but the early guess is that Clemson can move the football.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
When Auburn Has the Ball
The Clemson defense needs a big game. However, Auburn will send out quarterback Cam Newton, who is a threat with both his arm and his legs. This cat is dangerous, but I had one Clemson coach tell me that the name of the game against Auburn will be to make Newton win the game with his arm, not his legs. DE Andre Branch played the “bandit” position last week against Presbyterian and it would not be surprising to see him act as a spy on Newton – Branch is 6-5 and 265 pounds compared to the 6-6, 250-pound Newton. The big question will be if Clemson can stop the other runners that Auburn has – including Onterio McCalebb and freshman Michael Dyer. This group is a big reason that Auburn ranks ninth nationally in rushing offense with 278.5 yards per game. However, if Clemson wants to shut down the Auburn offense, they need to shut down Newton. And isn’t it about time Clemson had a big game from safety DeAndre McDaniel? Or maybe even safety Rashard Hall?
ADVANTAGE – AUBURN
This could be the difference for both teams. Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro has been perfect so far, including a 47-yard field goal, and punter Dawson Zimmerman has gotten off to a nice start. There haven’t been any huge plays in the return game, but Marcus Gilchrist is averaging a whopping 23.8 yards per punt return. Auburn has a dangerous weapon in kicker Wes Byrum, a pre-season Lou Groza Award finalist – but the key is to get Byrum to kick beyond 40 yards. For his career, Byrum is 33-for-39 from 39 yards and in. From 40 yards and out, he is a more pedestrian 12-of-22.
ADVANTAGE – EVEN
The hiring of Gene Chizik at Auburn caused some consternation and head-scratching down on the Plains, but Chizik has quietly guided Auburn back to talk about contending in the SEC. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has the same record (15-8) through his first 23 games as his predecessor, Tommy Bowden, but there is a different feeling around Clemson now than at any time during the Bowden era. Will that new toughness translate into wins on the big stage? We’re about to find out.
Auburn has everything going for it – a 13-game winning streak against Clemson; the love of the national media; home-field advantage; a big, running quarterback; national rankings; GameDay on site. With all of the hoopla and love being thrust on Auburn, the key for Clemson will be to weather the initial emotional storm that will be present at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It usually takes eight to ten minutes from the game clock for an emotional crowd to settle in, and by that time, each team has an idea of what the other is trying to do. Clemson has to play smart in those first ten minutes, protect the football, and then settle in and run the ball and control the clock. Oh yeah – and corral Newton. If Clemson can get through that first outburst without falling behind, the possibility for an upset win on the road is very real. Jamie Harper said earlier this week that Clemson fans are going to see Clemson “grow up before their eyes.” I believe him.
CLEMSON 26, AUBURN 24
Previous picks - Actual score
CLEMSON 56, PRESBYTERIAN 6 - CLEMSON 58, PRESBYTERIAN 21
CLEMSON 52, NORTH TEXAS 10 - CLEMSON 35, NORTH TEXAS 10