Kent State Golden Flashes (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 5 Clemson Tigers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 2nd, 2017. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KENT +39/CLEM -39
Over/Under Total: 51
It does not seem that long ago that Deshaun Watson connected with Hunter Renfrow for the 2-yard touchdown that sent shockwaves throughout the nation. Not only had Clemson won their first National Championship in 36 years but they also beat Alabama stopping the Crimson Tide from completing their bid at back to back championships in a down goes Frazier type of moment. Now Watson, Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, and Charone Peak that compiled Clemsons unstoppable offense have departed to the NFL leaving many to wonder if Clemson is destined for regression. On the other hand, several of the nations top recruits step into promising roles to keep expectations high in Tiger town. On Saturday, expectations meet reality when Clemson host Kent State as 39 point favorites in Death Valley.
The losses on the offensive side of the football are undeniable for Clemson. They lost one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, one of the best receivers in the nation, along with several other quality talents. Therefore, it would not be surprising to see Clemson retrace in what many would consider a rebuilding season. Instead of feared rebuilding term, I believe Clemson is still in a good position to be very good again this year and possibly even stay in the national championship discussion. The reasons are simple. The defense, that ranked 9th last year, has the chance to be even better as the best in the ACC. Additionally the holes left on offense will be filled with 5 star talent backed by several quality recruiting classes over the last few years.
At the quarterback position, Clemson has two choices in Kelly Bryant and one of the most heralded freshmen in Hunter Johnson. Bryant has earned the starting gig but I would not be surprised if Johnson sees the field at some time this year giving his potential. Additionally, the offense will be supported by a veteran offensive line that should help the quarterback situation mature. Considering National Championship hero Hunter Renfrow returns with Deon McCain and Ray Ray McCloud, the receiving corps should be fine. Instead my biggest concern for the offense surrounds the running game. Clemson performed at their best with they were able to run the football last year despite all of the excitement surrounding the passing game. Wayne Gallman was excellent in that position and Clemson will need C.J Fuller to be that guy again. If Clemson fails to run the ball effectively that will put more pressure on their inexperienced quarterbacks and that will be very important early this season.
Despite all of the question marks, the good news for Clemson is they get to test their high powered offense against the likes of Kent State in the opener. The Golden Flashes have won just 8 games in the last 3 seasons combined and are on the heels of a 3-9 campaign from 2016. To make matters worse, it was just recently announced that Head Coach Paul Haynes will be absent from the opener as he is dealing with medical issues. Therefore, the Golden Flashes have an uphill climb from a talent and technical standpoint entering this Saturdays game.
Offensively, Kent State has a few guys that have played well but question marks also surround those situations as well. Former receiver, turned quarterback, Nick Holley is returning from a season ending knee injury last year and has been limited throughout the fall. Holley is not a spectacular passer but can run the football. Meanwhile, senior wide out Kris White also returns from a leg injury as one of the featured pieces of the offense. Therefore, I am not sure if this appears to be the best situation for a team without their coach and returning players that are fresh off season long injuries from a year ago. However, the real reason I do not believe in the Golden Flashes chance to keep this game respectable is because I think Clemsons defense is going to be that good.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think the number is a bit high for Clemson as they look to break in so many new players on offense. The defense could create some turnovers and short field scoring opportunities. However, I still believe the number is a bit high for week 1 expectations. Take Kent State +39
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