One of the most anticipated match-ups of opening weekend of the 2013 college football season takes place this Saturday night (8:00pm ET) at Death Valley in Clemson, SC with the 5th ranked Georgia Bulldogs of the SEC squaring off with the 8th ranked Clemson Tigers (11-2 last season) of the ACC. Expectations are sky high for both teams this season as both return experienced quarterbacks and Heisman Trophy contenders in Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (3,896 yards passing and 36 TDs last season) , the reigning ACC Player of the Year, and Georgia’s Aaron Murray, who has thrown for 95 TD passes and 10,091 yards in his career. These two offenses were two of the most prolific in college football last season, and the electric atmosphere at Clemson Memorial Stadium should provide an exciting backdrop for a very competitive contest.
Georgia also returns talented tailbacks Todd Gurley (1,385 yards rushing and 18 TDs as a freshman last season) and Keith Marshall, as well as receiver Malcolm Mitchell on what should be one of the most explosive offensive units in the nation. The Bulldogs ranked 19th in the nation in scoring last season with an average of 37.8 points per game scored and 22nd in total offense with 467.5 yards per game.
Clemson also returns one of Boyd’s top targets in receiver Sammy Watkins (57 receptions for 708 yards last season) who was a freshman sensation two seasons ago and is looking to re-establish that form.Clemson ranked an impressive 6th in the nation in scoring offense last season with 41 PPG scored and 9th in total offense with 512 YPG last season.
Georgia vs. Clemson Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Georgia Bulldogs -1.5
@Clemson Tigers +1.5
Over 71 (-110)
Under 71 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Georgia vs. Clemson Pick
Georgia is strong in both the running game and the passing game, having averaged 4.9 YPC last season and 32 TDs on the ground. Clemson needs to replace their top runner from last season, 1,000 yard rusher Andre Ellington as well as record-setting receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The secondary is a concern for the Tigers, as they gave up numerous big plays last season and have only one returning starter this year in Travis Blanks. Clemson improved as the season went on in 2012, allowing an average of 440 yards in its first 7 games and 345 YPG over the final 6 contest, but Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is still concerned about his secondary: “Everybody knows [the secondary] is the area of our team that’s got to improve the most,” he said of his Tigers. Georgia was already dealing with an inexperienced defense before the injury bug hit their secondary. At one point last week, the only healthy projected starter in the unit was safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who is suspended for the opener. Safeties Tray Matthews (hamstring), Corey Moore (knee) and Shaq Fluker (back), have not been practicing. Corners Damian Swann (hip and groin) and Sheldon Dawson (shoulder) have also been nursing injuries.
The Bulldogs are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games against ACC teams. Clemson is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games on grass. The over is 4-1 in Georgia’s last 5 non-conference games. The under is 4-0 in Clemson’s last 4 games against SEC teams and 5-2 in their last 7 games overall.
With both teams featuring inexperienced and/or banged-up secondaries and a wealth of explosive play-makers on offense, this game has all of the makings of a shootout. The consensus school of thought is that defenses are ahead of offenses early in the season and ugly offensive football is the rule. This is a game where it is best not to over-think and follow the conventional wisdom. The over is the play to make here, these teams are too evenly matched to wager on the line. With two very experienced quarterbacks who have plenty of complimentary weapons at their disposal the play to make here is the over.