Georgia Tech has won five of its last six meetings against Clemson. You can bet the Tigers are going to want to erase end that streak of inferiority against the Yellow Jackets.
Both teams are fresh off of disappointing performances. Clemson came out flat against Boston College (though they eventually won 45-31), while Georgia Tech shockingly lost to Middle Tennessee State, one of the worst losses in the program's history.
Clemson may be heavy favorites, but history suggests this one will be tighter than you'd think. Let's break down this intriguing ACC clash.
Where: Clemson Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
When: Saturday, October 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Clemson (-10.5), according to Bet Online
Georgia Tech Injuries (via USA Today)
LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Undisclosed Questionable
P Sean Poole, Arm, Questionable
OL Morgan Bailey, Ankle, Questionable
S Fred Holton, Foot, Questionable
Clemson Injuries (via USA Today)
G Kalon Davis, Hamstring, Questionable
WR Sammy Watkins, Stomach Virus, Questionable
Clemson headed into Atlanta 8-0 a season ago and looking like one of the country's top teams. The Yellow Jackets promptly beat the Tigers, 31-17, ending any national championship hopes, and starting a run of four losses in six games for Clemson down the stretch.
You can be sure the Tigers will want revenge.
Top 25 Implications
A Clemson should keep them right around the No. 15 ranking they currently hold, while a loss could potentially see them drop from the rankings entirely. For Georgia Tech, a ranking doesn't look to be in the cards this season.
What They're Saying
Georgia Tech's loss to Middle Tennessee State a week ago was a shocking disappointment. If the team doesn't rebound well, Clemson will do far worse, as Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes:
The loss was possibly the most decisive home defeat to a lower-tier opponent in school history. While an FBS team, MTSU belongs to the Sun Belt Conference, a league with neither the resources nor pedigree of the ACC. The task for Johnson and his staff will be to excavate the rubble to find the team that led Virginia Tech and Miami going into the 59th minute of both games.
“I’m as disappointed as [the fans] are, I can promise you,” Johnson said. “I’m embarrassed, too. I’m going to do everything in my power to get it fixed and to get it right. That’s all I can do.”
Two defensive issue –poor tackling and being slow to the ball–could be exploited far worse by Clemson should they persist. The Tigers are ranked No. 16 in the country in total offense at 510.8 yards per game, 29 spots ahead of Middle Tennessee State (443.0 yards per game).
Georgia Tech Player to Watch: Tevin Washington, QB
The team's starting quarterback also happens to lead the team in rushing (304 yards, 11 touchdowns). But more important against Clemson might be how he throws it.
You can bet the Tigers will look to stack the box to slow down Georgia Tech's dangerous running attack. But Clemson is vulnerable in the secondary, and Washington could have opportunities to make big plays down the field with his arm.
If he does, look out—Georgia Tech may continue its recent run of success against the Tigers.
Clemson Player to Watch: Sammy Watkins, Clemson
He catches touchdowns. He runs for touchdowns. Hell, he even throws for them. There are few players more fun to watch than Clemson's electric wide receiver.
Sure, quarterback Tajh Boyd is the team's most important player—and Andre Ellington has been fantastic—but if you want fireworks, you want Watkins. You can bet Georgia Tech will pay extra attention to him wherever he lines up on Saturday.
Key Matchup: Georgia Tech Rushing Attack vs. Clemson Front Seven
This one is pretty simple—if Georgia Tech successfully runs the ball, they can win this game. And given the fact that they are third in the nation in rushing yards per game (329.4), it's not out of the question that they'll dominate on the ground.
Plus, when you consider that Clemson has allowed 250 yards or more twice this season, you can see how this could be scary for the Tigers.
It's vital that Clemson stuffs the running game. The more Georgia Tech is able to move the ball on the ground, the more they run the clock and keep the dangerous Tigers' offense off the field. The Yellow Jackets have to shorten this game—they won't win in a back-and-forth shootout.
Shootout, shootout, shootout. Neither team plays defense, and each team can move the ball. But unlike Georgia Tech, Clemson isn't one-dimensional. That will be the difference in a 45-35 win for the Tigers.
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