The ACC Clemson Tigers and the SEC Auburn Tigers clash this Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in the 2012 season opener. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Clemson vs. Auburn Game Overview
The Clemson Tigers come into this game as the second-highest ranked team in the ACC this season. The initial AP Poll and USA Today Coaches’ Poll have Florida State ranked seventh and Clemson ranked 14th. The Seminoles have been opened by Bovada as even-money 1/1 favorites to win the conference title, while the Tigers are third-favorites at 5/1 with Virginia Tech wedged in-between at 3/1.
Last season, Clemson was the class of the ACC with an overall record of 10-4 straight up. They waxed the Hokies, 38-10, in the conference title game as a seven-point underdog but went on to lose to West Virginia, 70-33, as a three-point favorite in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers return seven starters from an offense that includes all-conference quarterback Tajh Boyd and all-conference running back Andre Ellington. The bad news for Saturday night is that wide receiver Sammy Watkins will be out of the lineup while he serves a two-game suspension for drug-related offenses.
The defense returns seven starters as well with the entire secondary from last year’s team intact. The only major concern on this side of the ball is the loss of cornerback Martin Jenkins, out with a possible season-ending groin injury.
Auburn is coming off an 8-5 campaign overall last season, but the Tigers went just 4-4 SU in conference play. Auburn was passed over in the Coaches’ Poll but snuck in the AP Poll at No. 25. These Tigers are fourth-favorites at 12/1 to win their division, and moderate 25/1 longshots to win the SEC this season. The glory days with Cam Newton at the helm are becoming a distant memory for a team that is stuck firmly in the middle of the SEC.
There is a decent amount of talent on Auburn’s roster with eight starters back on offense and 10 starters back on defense. It looks like sophomore Kiehl Frazier will be the Tigers starting quarterback for Saturday night. Look for running back Onterio McCalebb to carry the load on the ground against Clemson. Playing in the shadow of Michael Dyer last season, he still managed to gain 641 yards on 112 carries. The defense has lineman Corey Lemonier and linebackers Jonathan Evans and Jake Holland back to anchor the front seven, and defensive back Chris Davis T’Sharvan returning to the secondary. This group is clearly the strength of this team, but it has to cut back on the 28.9 points a game it allowed in 2011.
Game Betting Trends
Clemson comes into this contest just 2-7 against the spread in their last nine neutral-site games and 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall. The total has stayed “under” in four of their last five games against the SEC.
Auburn is a healthy 5-1 ATS in its last six neutral-site games, but a woeful 3-7 ATS in its last 10 non-conference games. The total has stayed under in eight of its last 11 games against the ACC.
These two have met the last two seasons with Auburn winning at home in over time in 2010—a 7.5-point favorite with the total staying under the 55-point number. This was followed by Clemson’s 38-24 victory last season as a 3.5-point home favorite. The total went “over” the 60.5-point line in that one.
Clemson vs. Auburn College Football Betting Odds
Clemson has been opened as a three-point favorite for this year’s game with the total line set at 56.5.
College Football Picks: Clemson vs. Auburn Predictions
Clemson is definitely the better team on paper, but that is obviously not where the game is played. This game is setting up as a defensive battle, so the play on the under may be your best bet. If you decide to wager on a side as well, stick with Auburn and the three points in a nail-biter.