Clemson (3-0) at Georgia Tech (3-0)
When: Thursday, September 22nd 2016
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ESPN
The Clemson Tigers put their 18-game regular-season winning streak on the line Thursday night in Atlanta and look for their first win at Georgia Tech since 2003. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is just 4-5 all-time against the Yellow Jackets – one of only two ACC teams he has a losing record against. Clemson rolled up 537 total yards in a 43-24 home victory over Georgia Tech a year ago and the Tigers would like to have that kind of offense again after struggling the first two weeks this season. Clemson got two hard-fought six point victories to open the season, but then exploded against South Carolina State 59-0, out-gaining the Bulldogs 555-102. Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Deshaun Watson who has 692 passing yards and seven touchdowns, hasn’t done much damage on the ground thus far, and running back Wayne Gallman (197 rushing yards, two TDs) has just 74 yards over the past two games after rushing for 123 in the opener against Auburn. Clemson’s defense has picked up where it left off last year and ranks eighth nationally in total defense (250 yards per game) and 11th in scoring defense (12.3 points per game).
The Yellow Jackets also struggled out of the gate with a 17-14 win over Boston College, but have picked up the pace since. The Georgia Tech option attack has amassed 955 yards in the last two victories over Mercer and Vanderbilt with quarterback Justin Thomas leading the way. The versatile QB has 335 yards passing and another 169 on the ground to start the season, but was held to 43% passing in last year’s loss to Clemson. Dedrick Mills (126 yards, four TDs) also has run the ball well and Clinton Lynch (116 yards on nine carries) is a big-play threat. The Yellow Jackets have allowed 305 total yards per game but are giving up only 10.3 points per game – seventh-fewest in the nation. Georgia Tech is 7-2 at home against ranked opponents under Johnson, including wins over ranked Clemson teams in 2011 and 2014.
This is a real tough spot for Clemson. They haven’t fared well at all at Georgia Tech and they only have three days to prepare for a difficult option attack. Clemson’s offense broke out last week, but that was against South Carolina State. I expect a high-scoring affair, but the Yellow Jackets will do enough to keep this one close.
Pick: Georgia Tech +10