While the average Saturday during College Football season is jam-packed with wall-to-wall action, there’s always a couple of games that really jump out when you take your first glance at the weekly schedule. For Week 2, one of them kicks of at 7 PM EST at the legendary Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
In one corner, we have a legitimate national title contender that’s hitting the road for an early season test. In the other, we have a school that has inked a superstar head coach to a 10-year deal, one who would certainly love to get his tenure off on the right foot with a big upset.
Let’s get right to it and break down what looks to be one of the finer contests of the evening slate of games on Saturday.
Clemson @ Texas A&M, 7 PM EST, ESPN
- Clemson -12 (-115)
- Texas A&M +12 (-105)
- Clemson -475
- Texas A&M +400
- Over 5 (-110)
- Under 5 (-110)
Clemson vs. Texas A&M pick:
While both clubs enter the second week of the regular season with marks of 1-0, there are vastly different expectations attached to both schools for the entire year. For one of them, it’s national title or bust, while the other would consider double-digit wins and a lofty bowl position a smashing success.
The Clemson Tigers are the squad with legitimate national title aspirations, and the oddsmakers agree. Clemson’s odds of 7/2 to win the national title are second only to the Alabama Crimson Tide, who currently stand at odds of +200.
The oddsmakers have bestowed a total of 11 wins for Clemson as the benchmark for bettors to choose from. As for taking down the ACC title, Clemson is an overwhelming favorite at odds of -220, ahead of the 3/1 given to the Miami Hurricanes.
A national title isn’t a terribly realistic goal for the Texas A&M Aggies at the moment, as evidenced by odds of 75/1. The Aggies are projected for 7.5 wins, and the school has odds of 30/1 to take down the SEC, well behind favorites Alabama and Georgia.
Both schools won in laughers last week. For Clemson, the Furman Paladins agreed to come to town and played the part of opening week sacrificial lamb. Clemson won by a score of 48-7 in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard suggests.
Senior Kelly Bryant and Freshman Trevor Lawrence took turns dropping points on Furman. Bryant threw for 132 yards and 1 TD while also adding on 44 yards and another score with his legs. Lawrence produced 137 yards and 3 scores through the air.
It was a committee approach in the backfield as well, as 9 Tigers combined for 249 yards and 2 scores. Freshman Lyn-J Dixon and sophomore Travis Etienne led the way, with lines of 6/89/0 and 11/63/1 respectively.
For the Aggies, it was the Northwestern State Demons that came a knocking. Sophomore Kellen Mond kicked the festivities off and rained down some points before taking a seat, while sophomore Nick Starkel came in and performed clean-up duty, which included even more points.
Mond completed 17 of 25 for 184 yards and 2 TDs, and he would add on a rushing score for good measure. Starkel hit 5 of 8 for 63 yards and another score. All told, the Aggies piled on 59 points, while the visitors only mustered 7.
The backfield was all about junior Trayveon Williams, who absolutely gashed the Demons. Williams toted the rock 20 times for 240 yards and 3 TDs. Incredibly, that was less than half of the Aggies 503 total rushing yards on the day.
Now that the tuneups are out of the way, the competition ramps up seriously for both schools in Week 2. Clemson is a 12-point favorite for its road tilt against Texas A&M, a game which has a projected total of 52.5 points. There’s not much history to speak of between the two, as A&M holds a 3-1 all-time lead in the series.
They last met in back-to-back years in 2004 and 2005. A&M won the first of those meetings by a score of 27-6, a game which had a projected total of 54.5 points. Clemson scored a measure of revenge the following year, winning 25-24. Oddsmakers were right on the money with that one, as the Over/Under was set at 49 points.
Looking ahead to the rest of the month, the Aggies welcome ULM to Kyle Field next week, and follow that up with a road trip to take on the current number one team in the country, Alabama. The Aggies close out September with a home matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
For Clemson, it’s Georgia Southern at home, a road date with Georgia Tech, and a home matchup with Syracuse on the final Saturday in September. The Tigers’ toughest game of the month looks to be with the Aggies, who have the privilege of playing the top two squads in the country during the opening month of the season.
On Saturday, the battle in the trenches will be the determining factor. Namely, can the Aggies offensive line hold it together against one of the nation’s top defensive lines? On the other side, can the Tigers offense get anything going against a defensive line that’s no slouch either?
In the end, the talent disparity and current trajectory is just too great for the Aggies to overcome. While we have no doubt that Jimbo Fisher will have the squad properly motivated to insure the Tigers have a rough afternoon, upsetting the Tigers looks to be too big of an ask.
However, there’s no reason that the Aggies can’t keep this one closer than the spread suggests. That’s what we’ll be looking for to happen in what shapes up to one of the finest games of Week 2 of the College Football regular season.