No. 5 Clemson Tigers (8-0 SU, 7-1 ATS) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-2 SU, 4-3-1 ATS), Saturday October 29th 2011. 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 9, Bobby Dodd Stadium Atlanta, Ga.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Clem -4/GT +4
Over/Under Total: OFF
Say Hello to the Clemson Tigers who were once expected to be a team that online sports books handicapped at the 6 wins mark for the 2011 season. Instead, Clemson has been the biggest surprise through the 2011 season with a perfect 8-0 record and now owners of the number 5 ranking in the country. Despite a young talented team, Clemson had major concerns entering the season primarily on the offensive side of the football. However, new offensive coordinator Chad Morris has turned the Tigers offense into one of the most explosive offenses in all of college football. Not only has the Clemson offense been unstoppable this season, but they are on the verge of potentially making their case for the National Championship if they can keep winning.
This week the no. 5 Clemson Tigers take the road for just the 3rd time this season when the battle the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets got off to a perfect 6-0 start with that unique rushing offense, but have since dropped two straight road games. Last week the Yellow Jackets suffered a disappointing 24-7 loss to Miami that eventually caused the team to drop out of the top 25 rankings. This week the Yellow Jackets look to rebound as they return home with the hopes to end Clemson’s dream season while getting back on the winning path.
Perhaps the Yellow Jackets have just the type of offense to stop Clemson’s unbeaten streak. In fact, betting lines opened with Clemson being favored by a mere 4 points. The reason Georgia Tech should contend in this ball game is because their offense runs a unique rushing style offense that can give opposing defenses nightmares. Additionally, Clemson has struggled against the run this season giving up 170 yards per game on the ground that ranks 76th in college football against the run. Therefore if the Georgia Tech rushing offense can keep the Clemson defense off balance, they may have the opportunity to deliver the upset.
The Yellow Jackets offense has several talented rushers that will be utilized over the course of the game. Georgia Tech has 6 different rushers with more than 200 yards this season and they present a lot of confusing looks for defenses. Tailback Orwin Smith leads the team with 516 yards on the ground and 8 scores. Tailback David Sims follows closely behind with 496 rushing yards and an additional 3 touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, QB Tevin Washington adds to the triple option threat with a respectable 460 yards on the ground.
Nearly 80% of the Yellow Jackets play call will go to the ground attack as they attempt to wear defenses down on the ground. However, Washington and the passing attack can come up with big plays in the passing game as well when they catch defenses creeping in to stop the run. Therefore, it will be important that the Clemson front 7 plays well to stop the run. The Clemson secondary has given up big plays in the passing game this season and were not impressive against North Carolina last week. If Georgia Tech establishes the run and gets the Clemson safeties playing in, they could possibly come up with some big passing plays to make this game very entertaining.
On the other side of the field, Clemson will attack the Georgia Tech defense with a passing attack that spreads the ball around well. The Tigers sport the 15th best passing offense in America averaging a solid 303 yards per game through the air. QB Tajh Boyd is having an incredible season completing 61.9% passing for 2,379 yards with 21 touchdowns and 3 picks on the year. If Boyd has time to throw the football, he has proven that he will find the open guy and he pick defenses apart. Clemson has tremendous wide receivers that know how to get open. Therefore, the only way Georgia Tech will be able to slow the Clemson offense is by getting pressure on Boyd while forcing him to throw the ball early.
Still, Clemson has playmakers all over the field. The best of the bunch is freshman sensation WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins is undoubtedly the best freshman in America and a truly special talent in the passing game. So far this year, Watkins has caught 54 passes for 819 yards with 9 touchdowns on the season. Not only does Watkins have the ability to break a game wide open in the blink of an eye, but he has also become a big playmaker in the return game as well as he displayed with a 98 yard kickoff return that sparked a comeback over Maryland two weeks ago. Therefore, Georgia Tech must make sure they bring Watkins down as soon as he touches the ball. With Watkins and the rest of the Clemson receivers, they are extremely dangerous in the open field. Therefore, the Yellow Jackets defense must bring down the Clemson receivers quickly after the catch or big plays will become a certainty for the Clemson offense this Saturday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This Clemson offense has shown no signs of slowing down this season and I believe they expose an overrated Georgia Tech team. Take Clemson in a big win!
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