College Football Week One Picks: #5 Georgia Bulldogs at #8 Clemson Tigers

#5 Georgia Bulldogs at #8 Clemson Tigers
Memorial Stadium – Clemson, South Carolina
Saturday, August 31, 2013, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Georgia -2 1/2
Current Line: Georgia -2 1/2
Opening Total: 73
Current Total: 71
Opening Money Line: Georgia -120 / Clemson +100

Current Money Line: Georgia -140 / Clemson +120

Georgia is a 2.5 point favorite at Clemson Saturday in a battle of top 10 teams.
Georgia is a 2.5 point favorite at Clemson Saturday in a battle of top 10 teams.

The #5 Georgia Bulldogs travel to the #8 Clemson Tigers Saturday in a game with early BCS implications for both schools. This is the 63rd meeting between the schools located roughly 80 miles apart. However, the schools haven’t played since 2003. Georgia leads the series 41-17-4 and has won 5 straight games against Clemson. Clemson hasn’t beaten Georgia since 1990. The series is tied 9-9-2 at Clemson all-time.

Georgia, coached by Mark Richt, went 12-2 last year, with the only losses coming at South Carolina and to Alabama in the SEC Championship game 32-28. The Bulldogs would have likely played in the BCS Championship game had they beaten Alabama. As it was, the Bulldogs had to settle for a berth in the Capital One Bowl where they beat Nebraska 45-31.

Clemson went 11-2 last year under coach Dabo Swinney. The two losses came at Florida St and at home to South Carolina. Clemson then upset LSU 25-24 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray returns for his senior season. He completed 64.5% of his passes for 3,893 yards with 36 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Last year the dynamic duo of freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall took the SEC by storm. Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards on 222 carries with 17 touchdowns, and also had 16 catches. Marshall had 117 carries for 759 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 11 catches and a touchdown. Junior receiver Malcolm Mitchell had 40 catches, 542 yards and 4 touchdowns. Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome are talented tight ends. The line is very experienced with 101 combined starts and should be among the best in the country.

The Georgia defense struggled last year, especially against the run. The offense was so explosive that they were able to mask some of the defensive problems though. Although only 3 starters return, Georgia had good recruiting classes the last two years and had plenty of talent to improve from last year. Sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins had 5 sacks last year. Defensive end Ray Drew had six quarterback hurries last year. Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report including talented cornerback Josh Harvey-Clemons who is suspended indefinitely.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd returned to Death Valley for one more year. He will be in the NFL next year, and could be a Heisman contender. He completed 67.2% of his passes for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, along with 186 carries, 514 yards and 10 yards. Senior Roderick McDowell and junior D.J. Howard look to replace star running back Andre Ellington. The two combined for almost 600 yards and 7 touchdowns last year. Junior receiver Sammy Watkins slumped a little last year after an incredible freshman campaign, but now will be the go to receiver after DeAndre Hopkins left. The line must replace star center Dalton Freenman, but most of the other key pieces return.

Clemson’s defense got much better last year under first year coordinator Brent Venable, but sill has some work to do. Junior DE Vic Beasley had 8 sacks a year ago and will anchor the line. Junior DT  Grady Jarrett was the defensive player of the year for Clemson last year.

Georgia is 6-1 ATS overall, 4-1 on grass, and 9-3-1 against ACC teams.

Clemson is 8-2 ATS overall, 5-2 on grass, and 2-5 in non-conference games.

This should be a shootout with two of the most explosive offenses in the country and defenses with a lot of potential but lots of questions  as well. Murray and Boyd are two of the best quarterbacks in the country. I Think Georgia has a little too much and wins a tough game on the road.

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