#14 Clemson Tigers vs Auburn Tigers
Saturday, September 1, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Clemson -1
Current Line: Clemson -2 1/2
Opening Total: 59 1/2
Current Total: 55 1/2
Opening Money Line: Clemson -135 / Auburn +115
Current Money Line: Clemson -155 / Auburn +135
Clemson and Auburn meet for the 49th time Saturday night in Atlanta in a series that dates back to 1899. Auburn leads the series 34-12-2. Until Clemson won last year at home 38-24, Auburn had won 14 straight in the series.
Clemson is coached by Dabo Swinney. Last year, Clemson started off 8-0. The streak included wins over ranked Auburn, Florida St and Virginia Tech. The Tigers ended up going 2-4 down the stretch, but still won the ACC Championship game 38-10 in a rematch against Virginia Tech. Clemson went to the Orange Bowl where they were destroyed 70-33 by Big East champion West Virginia. Clemson ended up 10-4, and all losses were by 14 or more points. Clemson was 8-6 ATS and the total was 7-7 last year.
Auburn, coached by Gene Chizik, finished 8-5 last year. The five losses came to Clemson, Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama all by double digits. Auburn had quality wins over Mississippi St, South Carolina, Florida, and Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Auburn was 4-9 ATS last year and the total was 7-6.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 3.828 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions last year along with 5 rushing touchdowns. Running back Andre Ellington rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. Receiver Sammy Watkins had 82 catches, 1,219 yards, and 12 touchdowns. He is suspended for the first two games of the season after an off-season arrest, and will not play in the Auburn game. DeAndre Hopkins had 72 catches, 978 yards and 5 touchdowns. Clemson averaged 34 points and 440 yards per game last year.
Clemson hired Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables to turn around the Tiger defense. In the last 8 games last year, Clemson gave up at least 30 points in every game except the rematch with Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship. The low point was the Orange Bowl when West Virginia shredded the Clemson defense for 70 points and just under 600 yards. The defense needs to improve drastically led by DE Mallicah Goodman and linebackers Stephone Anthony and Corico Wright.
Auburn has a new offensive coordinator after Gus Malzahn left to become the head coach at Arkansas St. Scot Loeffler will run the offense now. Sophomore Kiehl Frazier takes over as the quarterback. Frazier rushed for over 300 yards in 13 games last year with 3 touchdowns. He didn’t throw many passes last year though. Ontario McCalebb is the feature back. He had almost a 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards with 7 touchdowns. Receiver Emory Blake and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen combined for 60 catches, almost 900 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Auburn also has a new defensive coordinator in Brian Van Gorder who takes over for Ted Roof. The pass defense was last in the SEC in 2011. The defense will be led by DE Corey Lemonier who had 9.5 sacks last year. Other key returning players include LB Daren Bates and DB T’Sharvan Bell.
Auburn has won 74 straight games when scoring 30 or more points dating back to 1996. Auburn has won 4 straight games in the Georgia Dome including the 2010 SEC Championship and last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. Auburn is 5-1 ATS in neutral site games, 3-7 in non-conference games, and 2-7-1 against ACC teams. Clemson is 4-1 ATS in September, 2-7 in neutral site games, 1-4 on fieldturf, and 1-5 overall.
In 2010, Clemson took a 17-0 lead at Auburn, before Cam Newton rallied Auburn for a 27-24 overtime win. Auburn went on to finish undefeated and win the BCS Championship that season. Last season, Auburn took a 14-0 lead at Clemson before Clemson rallied for a 38-24 win. I think this will be another exciting game. The loss of Watkins hurts, but Clemson still has an explosive offense. One thing is for sure though, the Tigers are going to both win and cover this game. But which ones? I think the ones from Clemson win a close game.
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