Georgia (0-0) vs Clemson (0-0)
When: Saturday, September 4th, 2021
Where: Bank of America Stadium,
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Clemson -3.5/52.5
The marquee matchup in Week 1 of the College Football season pits the No. 3 Clemson Tigers against the fifth-ranked Georgie Bulldogs from Charlotte, NC. It’s a highly-anticipated game with ESPN’s College GameDay on hand for the morning festivities. This will be by far each team’s toughest scheduled game of the year and we might even see these two meet in the College Football Playoff later this year. Clemson is coming off a 10-2 season and a blowout loss to Ohio State in the CFP semifinals at the Sugar Bowl. Georgia went 8-2 last season and beat Cincinnati 24-21 in the Peach Bowl. The Tigers have a couple of legends to replace at quarterback and running back. Gone are Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, who were both selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL Draft.
Despite being only 75 miles apart, Clemson and Georgia haven’t met since the Bulldogs’ 45-21 win in 2014. The Tigers opened-up as 3-point neutral-site favorites and the line has been bet down to 3 with a total of 51 as of Tuesday night. Three of the last four meetings have gone over and Georgia is 6-1 SU in the last seven meetings. Also of note, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is 18-7 ATS on neutral site fields, while Georgia’s Kirby Smart is 18-2 SU vs. non-conference opponents.
It seems that Georgia has found a capable quarterback in the form of JT Daniels, who split duties with Stetson Bennett in 2020. Daniels passed for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions and took over the starting gig in the final four games of the season. The Bulldogs are also loaded with a talented backfield, led by junior Zamir White, who led the team with 779 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns last season. Georgia’s defense saw losses over the offseason but they have reloaded. Last year, the unit allowed just 20.0 points and 321 total yards per game – 18th and 11th in the nation, respectively. The defensive line is rated as one of the best in the nation, but the secondary will be breaking in three new starters, including former Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick.
Replacing Lawrence will be D.J. Uiagalelei, who started two games in 2020 with Lawrence sidelined by Covid-19 protocols and played admirably. Etienne will be replaced by multiple guys including Kobe Pace, Will Shipley, and Lyn-J Dixon. Etienne left school as the all-time leading rusher in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers’ biggest challenge could come on the offensive line, where they must break in two new starters. But nine defensive starters return and they boast one of the most imposing front lines in the country. Clemson, which averaged 43.0 points and 511.2 total yards in 2020, is 3-1 against the spread in its last four games overall.
The offense won’t be as explosive for Clemson as it was last year – at least not this early in the season. The Georgia defense is terrific and will be the difference in this game.
Pick: Georgia +3
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