By Will Vandervort.
Here is a look at all the top matchups for today’s game as No. 22 Clemson host Georgia State in Death Valley at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports South in the Greenville-Spartanburg area.
Clemson’s defense vs. Georgia State’s offense: Clemson’s defense still ranks among the best in the country. The Tigers rank in the top 10 in total, rushing and passing defense, one of only three schools that can stake such a claim. Clemson leads the nation in third down conversion rate and tackles for loss, while ranking second in sacks. The passing combination of Nick Arbuckle to Donovan Harden is the key to Georgia State’s offensive success. Arbuckle is 16th in the nation in passing yards/game with 281.2, and is 26th in touchdown passes with 19. He is also 29th in completions per game with 21.4 and is 28th in passing yards per attempt at 7.94. Harden is 33rd in the nation in reception yards with 796 and is 23rd in touchdown receptions with seven. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s offense vs. Georgia State’s defense: Cole Stoudt will start at quarterback, but look for Nick Schuessler to also see some significant playing time early in the game. If Stoudt continues to struggle, Schuessler could see the field all day. Stoudt needs a solid performance to help with his confidence. Wayne Gallman and the Clemson running game should have a big day as the Panthers are allowing 309.2 yards per game on the ground – 124th in the country. They also rank last in scoring defense at 43.8 points per game. Clemson’s offense has not played well the last month, but it should be able to put some points on the board against a bad Georgia State defense. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s Special teams vs. Georgia State’s special teams: Ammon Lakip is now 19 of 23 on the season and is having an All-ACC caliber season. Bradley Pinion is averaging 43 yards per punt with a net average of 40 yards. He has also nailed 22 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Clemson’s inability to return kicks has been hard to watch at times this season, to say the least, but T.J. Green’s returns last week were one of the few bright spots in the loss to Georgia Tech. Georgia State’s Will Lutz is 6 of 7 on field goals this season and has tried just three from 40-plus yards. Punter Matt Hubbard is averaging just 35.5 yards per punt and has six drops inside the 20 and one to be fair caught. When he does get the opportunity to return a punt Harden is averaging 14.6 yards, of course that has happened only five times. Kick returning, like Clemson, has been an issue. The Panthers are averaging 18.2 yards per return. Advantage: Clemson
Bottom line: Moments after last week’s loss to Georgia Tech, defensive tackle DeShawn Williams said they had to flush it and then come out this week and take out their frustration on Georgia State. Look for the Tigers to do just that. Clemson has more talent and overall team speed than anyone the Panthers have seen this season and no one has put a defense on the field that is as talented and fast as Clemson’s. The Tigers should get out to a big lead early and then cruise from there. This game should be over by halftime, which will allow Clemson to start looking ahead to next week’s showdown with archrival South Carolina.
Prediction: Clemson 41, Georgia State 0