Clemson (1-0) and No. 13 Georgia Tech (1-0) meet for the 74th time tonight in Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech holds a 47-24-2 advantage in the series that dates to 1898. Georgia Tech won last year's matchup in Clemson by a 21-17 margin.
Last week Georgia Tech, coached by Paul Johnson, started off their season with a 37-17 victory over Jacksonville State. Jonathan Dwyer ran for 95 yards and two TD's, while Josh Nesbitt ran for 93 yards and a TD, and also threw for 141 yards and another TD.
The Tigers, coached by Dabo Swinney, began their season with a 37-14 victory over Middle Tennessee State. C.J. Spiller tallied 171 all-purpose yards, while Jacoby Ford totaled 190 all-purpose yards.
Clemson on Offense
Clemson could have some trouble tonight against a Yellow Jacket defense that is always tough. Add to that the fact that Clemson is starting a RS Fr. QB in Kyle Parker who is starting his first away game, and that could be a recipe for disaster.
However, last week Parker was very solid in his first start, throwing for two TD's and committing no turnovers.
The Tigers also have Heisman candidate C.J. Spiller in the backfield. Expect for him to get a lot of touches and make some big plays for Clemson tonight. Last week, the receiving corps dropped at least three passes; that will not be acceptable tonight. Look for Sr. Jacoby Ford to step it up this week.
Clemson on Defense
Clemson's defense caused three turnovers in their win over Middle Tennessee State (three INT's). Georgia Tech's offense causes a lot of problems with their triple option attack.
However, last year the Tigers were able to pretty much bottle up the Yellow Jackets' offense. The Tigers' speed and athleticism will help them to be able to stop the potent Georgia Tech offense.
The Yellow Jackets are led by RB Jonathan Dwyer and QB Josh Nesbitt. Another big time player is RB Roddy Jones. All three of these players are capable of breaking a long run at any moments.
Last week, Clemson had two returns for TD's, a 96 yard kickoff return by C.J. Spiller, and a 61 yard punt return by Jacoby Ford. Spiller also chipped in another 50 yard punt return that did not go for a TD. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said he will kick to Spiller and Ford, a decision that could very well come back to bite him.
This game is historically a close one, meaning it could come down to K Richard Jackson, who went 3-5 on FG's last week.
Clemson and Georgia Tech are two very evenly matched teams. I expect both of these teams to compete for the ACC Championship. This game last season was the first for coach Dabo Swinney, and with the team in disarray he pulled them together.
However, they could not defeat the Yellow Jackets, losing 21-17 after a few bad calls went against them.
Tonight I see RB C.J. Spiller having a big game for the Tigers on offense and on special teams. Clemson needs QB Kyle Parker to play consistently and they will have a chance to win.
Last season, Clemson's defense played pretty well against Georgia Tech. Tonight I see much of the same. I think this is because the Tigers have a lot of athletes and speed on defense and they should be able to contain the Yellow Jackets. Look for LB Brandon Maye and DE Da'Quan Bowers to have big games.
The X-factor in this game could be special teams. Georgia Tech has said they will kick it to C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, and I see the Tigers making them pay for that by coming up with at least one big return.
This has been the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 13 years. 10 of the last 13 games have been decided by five points or less, including a six-game streak between 1996-2001 in which every game was decided by exactly three points.
This is a huge game for both teams. The Tigers can show everyone that they are for real by knocking off the Jackets on the road on Thursday night.
The last time Clemson won in Atlanta, they were coming off of a 37-14 win over Middle Tennessee State, the same score by which the Tigers defeated the Blue Raiders last Saturday. Could it be an omen?
This game features two Heisman trophy candidates and two of the best RB's in the nation in C.J. Spiller for the Tigers and Jonathan Dwyer for the Yellow Jackets.
I think Spiller will outshine Dwyer tonight in the national spotlight. Clemson will come out fired up and ready to go. The Tigers offense will follow the lead of Spiller and the defense will be chomping at the bit to get on the field.
The Tigers are still upset about the loss to Georgia Tech last season, because there were a few questionable calls that went against the them.
Tonight, Clemson will be ready to go and C.J. Spiller will have a huge game and launch himself higher into the Heisman picture on the national stage.
Clemson 24, Georgia Tech 17
Kickoff is at 7:45PM, but TV coverage begins at 7:30PM on ESPN. GO TIGERS!!!