#3 Clemson vs Georgia Tech Pick
#3 Clemson @ Georgia Tech (9/22/18)
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium. Atlanta, Georgia.
By: Jay Horne
Spread: Clemson -17 / Georgia Tech +17
Dabo Swinney and yet another talented Clemson contingent gear up for their ACC-opener on the road at Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon. Tech dropped their ACC-opener on the road at Pittsburgh last week, despite being favored in the contest. The Clemson Tigers have started the season 3-0 and are ranked third in the nation, while Georgia Tech’s 1-2 thru their first three games. Both teams failed to cover the spread in all three of their respective games so far, which means something has to give at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday.
Clemson looks like the class of the ACC again
Another year, another reload and yet another Clemson team that has the goods to contend for the National Title once again. That seems to be the way things are for Dabo Swinney down in Clemson, South Carolina. Certainly, he’s built a juggernaut program in the ACC which consistently contends for titles. Take a look at their schedule and you’ll notice they’re very likely to run the table in their regular season slate. One contest that might be a challenge is on the road at 23rd-ranked Boston College, but the Tigers will probably get the job done in that one too.
Clemson is anchored by their suffocating defense, which tied for third in the nation in team sacks with 12 thus far. Defensive End Clelin Ferrell’s accrued five of those sacks, leading the NCAA. The Tigers have been unbelievably efficient at stopping the run thru three games, allowing a meager 2.1 yards per carry to opponents which is sixth-best in the NCAA. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables’ crew is ranked 10th in defensive efficiency. They’re allowing an average of 13.3 points per game right now.
Offensively, the Tigers are averaging 38 points per game. Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence have split time at the Quarterback position. Lawrence is more of a pocket passer, completing 61.9% of his passes with five touchdowns and one pick. Bryant has a year of experience on Lawrence and the dual-threat of rush and pass. He’s completed 68.2% of his passes thus far for two touchdowns and one interception. On the ground, Bryant’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has notched two touchdowns. Clemson has had five different players record a touchdown reception and they’re once again loaded at the receiver position. Running back Travis Etiene appears to be the number-one option on the ground, averaging 7.7 yards per carry with four touchdowns.
Against the spread, Clemson has failed three straight weeks. Will the fourth time be the charm for them? They were a 50.5 point favorite versus Furman and won by 41. At Texas A&M, the Tigers were favored by 12.5 but barely snuck by with a two-point victory in College Station. Last week, Clemson blasted Georgia Southern 38-7 at home but they were favored by 32. Oddsmakers are clearly giving Clemson a lot of justifiable respect with the monster lines, but this week looks a little different for the ACC-opener against a Georgia Tech opponent that’s notoriously difficult at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Yellow Jackets stung in back-to-back contests
Georgia Tech failed to qualify for a bowl berth last year, and this year’s squad looks awfully similar. Judging by their schedule, it looks like a 6-6 or 5-7 type of year for the Yellow Jackets. Obviously, the former would be much better than the latter due to qualifying for a bowl berth. One thing is for certain, this Tech squad is going to run and run often. Coach Paul Johnson seems to once again have his signature option offense implemented with returned Quarterback and leading rusher TaQuon Marshall at the helm yet again.
Marshall hasn’t been too successful as a passer, completing 47.1% for two touchdowns and four interceptions. However, he’s been great on the ground as Tech’s leading rusher with fifty carries for 293 yards (5.9 AVG.) and four touchdowns. Georgia Tech’s one-dimensional offense has had eleven rushing touchdowns juxtaposed to just two threw the air.
Georgia Tech’s averaging 32.7 points per game and allowing 24.3 per game thru three games. After trouncing Alcorn State 41-0 in their season opener, the Yellow Jackets lost 49-38 at USF and 24-19 at Pittsburgh. This is the first time Georgia Tech will be an underdog this year, which may be a good thing for them because they’ve gone 0-3 in the favorite role so far.
At first glance, this game looks like it would be good for the under 52 because the under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings between these two clubs. It still might be a good play, but I feel more confident riding with Clemson -17 against the spread. Georgia Tech has a one-dimensional offense that the NFL-talent of the Clemson defensive corps will gobble up like chicken fried rice. Consequently, TaQuon Marshall will be rushed, hurried and sacked with regularity. He’ll also be forced to throw the ball which he’s proven to have much difficulty with. Expect Clemson to force turnovers galore. The Yellow Jackets defense is still adjusting to their newly implemented 3-4 scheme and has allowed 36.5 points per game in their last two against decent competition (USF & Pittsburgh). Clemson has the best talent these guys will see on either side of the ball all year. Clearly, Tech’s overmatched in all facets of the game here even at home. On paper, this game looks like an ideal recipe for a rout. The Tigers will make a statement in their ACC-opener on the road, beating Georgia Tech by at least three scores.