Georgia Tech (2-3) vs. Clemson (4-0) 3:30pm
Clemson is 3-2 since 2010 against Georgia Tech with an average margin of victory of 18 points per game in the three victories. Last season, Georgia Tech won the game 28-6 in which Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson was injured and backup Cole Stoudt threw 3 interceptions- two of which were returned for touchdowns. Georgia Tech has lost three straight games by an average margin of defeat of 9.6 points per game (Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina). This will be Clemson’s second ACC game of the season and the Tigers are 1-0 (beat Louisville 20-17). Georgia Tech is 0-1 after losing to North Carolina last week.
The Yellow Jackets have struggled during a three game losing streak to control the tempo of the offense. Overall, the team is averaging 41.4 points per game and has rushed for 311 yards per game, however, they have not been able to consistently run the triple option and have been taken out of their game plan by opposing defenses. Quarterback Justin Thomas has struggled in the passing game and that has put pressure on the offensive line and made the team predictable. Through the first five games, Thomas has completed 45.6% of his passes for 577 yards with 7 touchdowns along with 2 interceptions. The lack of experience at the wide receiver position has not allowed the team to stretch teams vertically off of play action and forced short to intermediate throws. The Yellow Jackets are passing for 127 yards per game with wide receiver Ricky Jeune (sophmore) leading the team with 10 receptions for 173 yards with one touchdown. In order to get the victory on Saturday in Death Valley, Georgia Tech will need to control the clock and keep Clemson’s offense off of the field. Running back Patrick Skov leads the team with 319 yards averaging 4.2 yards with 5 touchdowns. Georgia Tech cannot afford to fall behind early in this game which would put pressure and the passing game to come from behind.
Defensively, Georgia Tech is allowing 23.6 points per game and has been solid in the secondary allowing 164 passing yards per game. Through five games, the team has recorded 9 sacks and must find a way to get pressure on Watson this weekend. Turnovers can be key in this game and the Yellow Jackets are +3 in turnover margin. A cause of concern has been the front seven which is allowing 169 rushing yards per game and must be able to force third and long situations to pull of the upset on the road.
The Tigers are riding high after an emotional 24-22 victory at home over top ranked Notre Dame last Saturday. Overall, Clemson is averaging 33.5 points per game and the team has been very balanced in working the uptempo offense through the first four games. The Tigers are averaging 211 passing yards per game and are led by dynamic quarterback DeShaun Watson. Watson has completed 68.7% of his passes for 725 yards with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He is a mobile quarterback that can run the football off tackle (186 rush yds. 1 TD) and get tough yards in the running game. Running back Wayne Gallman is an underrated back that has rushed for 421 yards and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry with 3 touchdowns this year. Gallman has great vision in finding creases in opposing defenses and has the speed to take it the house every time he touches the football. Wide receiver Artavis Scott is the Tigers play maker in the passing game. Scott has caught 25 passes for 231 yards with 3 touchdowns and runs smooth routes in finding holes in opposing defenses. In order to get the victory on Saturday afternoon, the Tigers will want to start fast and put pressure on the Yellow Jackets offense to respond. Georgia Tech has struggled when teams gain the lead this year and has not show come from behind ability through the first five games. If Clemson is forced into a slow methodical ball control game by the Georgia Tech defense, this would be an advantage to the road team.
The Clemson defense has the opportunity to be better than last season’s #1 ranked statistical unit. Through the first four games, the team is allowing 14.8 points per game and stepped up late last week when the game was on the line in stopping a potential two point conversion by Notre Dame. Clemson has been solid in run support giving up 113 yards per game and will be challenged by the triple option this weekend. The team will need to be disciplined and maintain gap integrity over the blocking schemes of Georgia Tech. Defensive tackle Kevin Dodd and defensive end Shaq Lawson are two players that have been stepping up in the early part of the season. Dodd leads the team with 3.5 sacks and Lawson is second with 2.5 sacks on the year. Overall, the Tigers have recorded 11 sacks and are +3 in turnover margin. The defensive secondary gave up some big plays to Notre Dame in the fourth quarter last week and must do a better job this weekend while facing Georgia Tech. The Tigers are allowing 189 passing yards per game.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor at www.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: