Who has the edge?

Who has the edge?

Football

Who has the edge?

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By Will Vandervort

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of tonight’s 8:22 p.m. kickoff (ABC) between No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 8 Clemson.

Quarterback: This might be the best matchup between two high-caliber quarterbacks this year in college football. Georgia’s Aaron Murray has thrown 95 touchdowns in the last three years and has broken just about every singled passing record at Georgia and some in the SEC. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has set numerous Clemson and ACC records in the last two seasons, and gives the Tigers an extra advantage with his ability to run the football. Boyd rushed for more than 500 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season. Advantage: Clemson

Running back: Roderick McDowell will get the start for the Tigers tonight and Zac Brooks will get a lot of carries, too. Walk-on running back C.J. Davidson has really made head turns in practice and he will get a chance to show what he can do tonight. There is no questioning what Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall can do. The two combined for 2,100 yards and 25 touchdowns last season with Gurley leading the way with 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns. Advantage: Georgia

Wide receiver / Tight ends:  Senior tight end Michael Bennett is back from a torn ACL he suffered last season, he was a favor target of Murray’s before the injury. Flanker Malcolm Mitchell is also back for the Bulldogs and was Murray’s top target the last four games of the season. Clemson’s Sammy Watkins says he is more focused and is ready to return to the type of player he was when he was a freshman at Clemson in 2011. Martavis Bryant is a guy to watch as we have heard he has become one of Boyd’s top targets. Charone Peake and Adam Humphries also bring back plenty of experience and are expect to have a lot of success. Advantage: Clemson

Offensive line: Georgia brings back all five starters from last season, including seniors Kenarious Gates at left tackle, Charles Burnette at right guard and Dallas Lee at left guard. The Tigers bring back four starters on the offensive line, including three-year starter Brandon Thomas at left tackle and senior right guard Tyler Shatley. Advantage: Georgia

Defensive line: Clemson is six to seven deep at the tackle positions, which is led by juniors Grady Jarrett. Josh Watson and DeShawn Williams. Corey Crawford is expected to have a breakout season at defensive end and newcomer Shaq Lawson really pushed Vic Beasley for the other starting spot there. Georgia has some questions marks all over the defense and the defensive line is no exception. Only end Garrison Smith returns from last year’s SEC East Division Championship team. Advantage: Clemson

Linebackers: The Bulldogs have a couple of returners in inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera and outside backer Jordan Jenkins. Both appeared in all 14 games last year and combined for 15 starts. The Tigers return three guys in Quandon Christian, Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey who all started at one point last season. Anthony will start at middle linebacker, while Shuey, who started the last half of the season at middle last year, moves over to the weakside. Advantage: Clemson

Secondary: Whoever has the better game in the secondary will win this football game. Both teams have their issues. Georgia will have just one starter back there in corner Damian Shaw, while both the safety positions will have guys that have never played due to suspensions and injuries to the secondary. Clemson isn’t in much better shape. The Tigers do get guys like Bashaud Breeland, Martin Jenkins, Garry Peters and Darius Robinson back after they all suffered injuries last year, but there is a lot of inexperience at safety with Robert Smith and Travis Blanks making their start as a duo. This matchup should be interesting to watch play out tonight.  Advantage: Even

Special teams: It’s doubtful Marshall Morgan will kick tonight for the Bulldogs, which means a new kicker will be expect to make some big kicks tonight for the Bulldogs. Clemson returns one of the best kickers in the nation in Chandler Catanzaro and Bradley Pinion should help equalize what Georgia punter Collin Barber can do. The return game on both sides will be interesting to watch since both teams will be using new specialists. Advantage: Clemson

Prediction: This game has all the makings of a typical Georgia-Clemson classic. This should be a back-and-forth game where both offenses will make big plays. In the end, Catanzaro gives Clemson a slight edge, especially if it comes down to a last-second field goal. Clemson 38, Georgia 35

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