No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 8 Clemson Tigers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Saturday August 31st, 2013. 8:00PM Eastern.
Where: Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UGA -1.5/Clem +1.5
Over/Under Total: 68
The biggest game slated for the opening week of college football will take place from a little college town in South Carolina when the no. 8 Clemson Tigers host the no. 5 Georgia Bulldogs inside Memorial Stadium. For those with short term memory, the Georgia Bulldogs were just a play or two shy of winning the SEC Championship over Alabama last year. Instead of getting a crack at the National Championship, the Bulldogs ran out of time while driving for the game winning score. It is easy for folks to forget the small details but that poor clock management may have been the only obstacle that held the Bulldogs back from capturing their first National Championship in over 30 years. Luckily the Bulldogs have the majority of their 2012 core back and they are poised to make a run at the crystal ball in 2013. The Bulldogs will face a big test out of the gate when they go on the road to meet the no. 8 Clemson Tigers who has become another team with high expectations for 2013.
Clemson took a step closer to returning to college football championship stage last year by posting a respectable 11-2 campaign that was capped off by a win over then no. 8 LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Before the bowl game, Clemson had received some scrutiny for failing to play their best in the big games. Not only had Clemson lost their only two match-ups to ranked opponents in 2012 but they had similar big letdowns in 2011 that was overshadowed by that thrashing at the hands of West Virginia in the Orange Bowl by a score of 70-33. Therefore, Clemson fans hope last year’s big season ending victory against LSU was just the spark the Tigers needed to get back into their own National Championship hunt. The Tigers have a lot of talent returning on their dynamic offense and needless to say expectations are even higher in 2013. Would there be any better way to kick start those expectations than knocking off the no. 5 Georgia Bulldogs in the season opener?
Both teams are evenly matched as odds makers have the Bulldogs as slight 1.5 point favorites over Clemson. However for Clemson to pull off the upset, they will have to find a way to slow down another extremely dangerous offense. In fact, Georgia may have the better of the two offenses. Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray is among the best quarterbacks in the SEC and is coming off a stellar 2012 campaign where he threw for 3,893 yards with 38 touchdowns with just 10 picks. Not only is Murray one of the best pure passers in the SEC, but the Bulldogs have two of the most talented young tailbacks in college football. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall got the nickname “Gurshall” last season as both freshman tailbacks burst onto the season to rush for more than 2,000 yards and 25 scoring touchdowns. Those numbers are fairly similar to one former Georgia great Herschel Walker posted in his Heisman Trophy winning season hence the moniker “Gurshall”. Clemson has had a lot of problems against the run in recent years and that will be a concern against Georgia with their talented stable of running backs in the backfield.
As far as the Clemson offense is concerned, the Tigers definitely have the firepower to score with Georgia. Senior QB Tahj Boyd was the 2012 ACC Player of the Year after completing 67% passing for 3,896 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 picks. For those that may not be familiar with Clemson’s offense, offensive coordinator Chad Morris runs an extreme up tempo spread offense. The Tigers typically aim to get off 80+ plays per game and attack defenses quickly with short to medium range passing routes. The Tigers did lost leading WR DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL but WR Sammy Watkins, who is arguably the most talented, does return to be the main target in the passing offense. Rest assured Clemson’s passing offense should continue to strive in 2013. However, there is some concern at the running back position where the Tigers lost the elusive running threat of Andre Ellington. Ellington was a nice mix to the consistent passing threat and could break open big plays as an additional threat to defenses. Only time will tell if senior Roderick McDowell can deliver that same type of support.
Obviously there will be a ton of offensive talent on the field for each team when the Tigers and Bulldogs meet in Clemson. In fact odds makers have the total for the game list at a rather high mark of 68 and public betters have still favored the over side by 65%. Ironically however it will likely be the play of the defenses that determine the outcome. As stated previously, Clemson has been inconsistent despite some improvement in defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ first year in 2012. Despite the improvement, the Tigers were just mediocre last season giving up 396 yards per game (63rd in NCAA). Georgia on the other hand was a bit better giving up just 357 total yards per game (32nd in NCAA). However, the Bulldogs return just 4 starters from last year’s team. Even though Georgia will put some talented players on the field it is hard to gauge the immediate expectations without a great deal of game time experience.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This should be an exciting game with a lot of scoring and big plays on each side. However, I think the Bulldogs are the most complete team and will find a way to pull this one out. Take Georgia -1.5
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