Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM
It’s going to be hard to top the thrills and excitement of Thursday openers like Ole Miss/Vanderbilt and Rutgers/Fresno State. But…Saturday Night brings a showcase game that has the potential to be that exciting AND important because the teams involved will be among the very best in the country.
It’s one thing when minor bowl teams play thrillers on the way to 8-4 type seasons. #5 Georgia visits #8 Clemson Saturday Night (nationally televised by ABC) in a matchup worthy of a BCS Bowl or even a future championship tournament. Both teams are loaded. Both teams have quarterbacks capable of putting points on the board very quickly and efficiently. And, you’ll see in the stats below that both teams have realistically big dreams about what 2013 might bring to their programs.
Georgia: 12-2 (lost to ‘Bama in SEC Championship, beat Nebraska in Capital One Bowl)
Clemson: 11-2 (beat LSU in Chick-Fil-A Bowl)
Georgia took Alabama to the wire…playing much more impressively than Notre Dame would a few weeks later in the BCS Championship game. Clemson made up for an embarrassing bowl loss to West Virginia two years ago with an upset of LSU in Atlanta. Clemson played like an SEC power in that game, and hopes to do the same thing on their home field against the Bulldogs. Based on last year’s won-lost records and this season’s poll rankings, Georgia/Clemson is clearly the best matchup of the opening week…and will be one of the top few matchups of the opening month in this sport.
Georgia: 22 in total offense (30 in passing, 43 in rushing)
Clemson: 9 in total offense (13 in passing, 36 in rushing)
Both teams move the ball very effectively. It’s important to remember here that Clemson plays fast break football while Georgia is much more methodical. That means, on a per-play basis, Georgia arguably has the better offense. If they can slow Saturday’s game down…they will get the best of it in the numbers. Clemson must play fast to fully utilize their speed and schematics.
Georgia: 32 in total defense (8 in passing, 77 in rushing)
Clemson: 63 in total defense (71 in passing, 57 in rushing)
Clemson gets hurt here because fast-break football lengthens games, and puts opponents on the field more often than normal. That being said, Georgia is still the stronger unit on that side of the ball. Key for Georgia will be stopping run plays from out of the spread attack to get stops. Clemson’s defense must prevent big passing plays. Well, “stop” and “prevent” are probably too strong for what’s likely to take place. Both defenses want to slow down the opposing attacks as best as possible. Best expectations are for a high scoring shootout.
Returning Starters (Projected Quarterback)
Georgia: 8 on offense, 3 on defense (Aaron Murray)
Clemson: 6 on offense, 7 on defense (Tajh Boyd)
This is where Georgia has to worry. Can their new starters get up to speed in their career openers on the road against a potent offense? Sharp money has hit the home dog largely because of concerns about Georgia’s new defenders. Overall, Georgia has the better talent, and comes from a much superior conference. That won’t matter if an inexperienced defense can’t get in the way of what Tajh Boyd is trying to do with his arms and his legs.
Current Vegas Line: Georgia by 1.5, total of 71
Yup…that’s about 36-35 for the projected final score…very much in line with the biggest shootouts of this past Thursday. Get ready for a great game!
JIM HURLEY knows you love watching yourself win on TV. But, he also knows you should never force a play that isn’t there. You can purchase the very best options from the whole Saturday schedule (which will include some TV action) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about our service, call the office Saturday morning before the games kickoff at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you tomorrow to run the numbers in Ohio/Louisville, a Sunday afternoon game that will be televised by ESPN. Monday…Labor Day…will bring a preview of Florida State/Pittsburgh…the grand finale to the worst huge weekend of college action.
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