ATLANTA — Second-ranked Clemson travels to Bobby Dodd Stadium today to take on Georgia Tech in the Tigers’ Atlantic Coast Conference opener. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
The Tigers (3-0, 0-0 ACC) are looking for their fourth consecutive win over the Yellow Jackets, which will mark just the second time in the rivalry’s long history a Clemson senior class has won all four games.
The seniors are also looking to win their fourth straight ACC opener, something that has not happened at Clemson since 2005.
Clemson is also looking for its second straight win at Bobby Dodd, something that has not happened since the Tigers won here in 2001 and 2003.
The is the seventh straight year Clemson has opened conference play on the road and the eighth time since the Dabo Swinney era began in 2009.
Who has the edge?
Clemson’s defensive front vs. Tech’s O-Line: Though Clemson held Georgia Tech nearly 110 yards below its season average in last year’s game at Death Valley, the Yellow Jackets still averaged a respectable 4.6 yards per carry against Clemson’s vaunted defensive front. However, the Tigers had 11 tackles for loss and caused a couple of fumbles as well. It does not help Tech either that right guard Will Bryan and right tackle Andrew Marshall, both seniors, will likely not play due to lower body injuries. That puts pressure on an already smaller offensive line to hold guys like Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant at bay with inexperienced players. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s defense vs. Tech QB TaQuon Marshall: Clemson held Marshall to a season-low 23 yards rushing last season on 15 carries. At the time, Marshall came into the game leading the ACC in rushing yards. Marshall was ineffective throwing the ball too, completing just 3-of-13 passes for 32 yards. So far this year, the senior is averaging 97.7 yards per game on the ground. However, Marshall is playing with an injured toe, something he suffered in the Jackets’ game against USF two weeks ago. Though stopping Tech’s dive play is the key to beating the triple option, Marshall’s ineffectiveness makes life even harder for Tech. So far this year, Marshall is completing just 47.1 one percent of his passes for 353 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Advantage: Clemson
Clemson’s quarterbacks vs. Tech’s secondary: Clemson seems to have a good balance with Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence sharing the snaps. Their statistics are about even, and both have come up big in key moments. Bryant is completing 68.2 percent of his passes for 405 yards, while Lawrence has completed 61.9 percent of his for 424 yards. Bryant has completed six passes of 20 yards or more, while Lawrence has completed five. Tech’s secondary has three interceptions this year. However, they have allowed opponents to complete 67.5 percent of their passes for 468 yards. With explosive players in Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers at wide receiver, the Tigers will test the Yellow Jackets’ secondary all afternoon. Advantage: Clemson
Bottom line: Like always, Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1 ACC) will try to play keep away from Clemson’s offense with its ball-control style. The Tigers will likely have two or three less possessions unless the defense forces a few turnovers and gives the offense short fields. Clemson must take advantage of every possession it gets and get points on the board. If the Tigers can shut down Taquon Marshall like they did last season and get ahead by two or three scores early, then they should coast to an easy victory.
Prediction: Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 10