SEC/ACC Clemson vs. Georgia Showdown Breakdown From Jim Feist

By: Jim Feist | Thursday, August 28, 2014

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A pair of Top 20 college football teams meet in Athens, Georgia, as the Clemson Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs open their campaigns on Saturday, August 30, 2014.  Georgia opened as 8½ point favorites but the line moved to 7½, while the total has gone down sharply from 58 to 54½.

This is a rematch of a thriller in the opener a year ago as Clemson won 38-35 as +1.5 dog at home.  It was an offensive show as No. 5 Georgia had 545 yards, Clemson 467;  Georgia had 222 yards rushing, Clemson 197.

However, a lot of changes have happened in one year for both teams.  Clemson loses four-year starting QB Taj Boyd to the NFL along with speedy WR Sammy Watkins. They led the way as Clemson averaged 40.2 ppg in 2013. It's hard to believe that offense will be in mid-season form in Week 1, especially against a Georgia LB corps that has great size and speed.  It's the Bulldog secondary that has some new faces, that's the matchup to watch, on a defense that ranked 79th in the nation last fall allowing 29 ppg.

And speaking of defense, Clemson has a talented unit that was overlooked last season. The Tigers finished 24th in the nation allowing 22.2 ppg. They bring back third-year defense coordinator Brent Venables along with a dominant, attacking line.  The defensive line is led by All-American sack artist Vic Beasley (13 sacks last year) and doesn't lose a single participant. Senior DT Grady Jarrett,  Josh Watson and senior DE Corey Crawford are a handful. The secondary, too, has a chance to be really special, as other than Florida State game their DBs had a solid year

Georgia has a new QB, too, in senior Hutson Mason (5 TDs, 3 INTs in 2013).  As usual March Richt has great running backs and will look for balance. Last year's game was an offensive show, but it's clear the bettors are expecting less scoring with the total dropping down. You know the old Vegas saying this time of the year: "Defenses are often ahead of the offenses."

Check out all of Jim Feist's football selections for tonight and all weekend long, including a Rivalry Game of the Month (Friday) and a rare CFB Text Play (Saturday) here:

Clemson:  -  2013: 11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS.  26-14 ATS the last 3 years

  • Returning: Offense - 5, Defense - 7.   9-4 ATS, 10-4 ATS the last two years.
  • Coming off back to back 11-2 seasons for Coach Dabo Swinney and talented  offensive coordinator Chad Morris.  
  • Only losses in 2013: 51-14 to Florida State, 31-17 at South Carolina.
  • 2013 Clemson offense: 40.2 points, 333 yards passing (9th), 174.6 yards rushing (56th).  
  • Senior QB Cole Stoudt (415 yds, 5 TDs, 0 INTs) steps in, some passing experience, but also a good runner.
  • Clemson backfield has new faces with their top two rushers gone.  RB Zach Brooks (246 yds, 5.1 ypc) and senior RB DJ Howard (213 yds, 3.7 ypc) were 3rd + 4th on team. 
  • 3 starters on O-line are back, along with junior TE Stanton Seckinger  (244 yds).
  • WR soph Mike Williams (316 yds, 15.8 ypc) led the team and is back along with senior WR Adam Humphries (483 yds, 11.8 ypc).  

2014 Georgia: - 8-5 SU/3-9-1 ATS (5-3 SEC) -   8-5 over the total

  • Returning: Offense - 5, Defense - 10.         2012: 12-2 SU, 8-5 ATS.  7-1 SEC. 
  • 2013 Offense: 36.7 ppg (22nd), 314 yds passing (15th), 170 yds rushing (65th).
  • Senior QB Hutson Mason (5 TDs, 3 INTs, 968 yards, 61%) was pressed into surface after an injury to Aaron Murray.  O-line allowed just 22 sax
  • Junior RB Todd Gurley (1,385 yards, 6.2 ypc in 2012; 989 yds, 6 ypc in 2013) is a star and will be in NFL backfields soon.  
  • Georgia has 3 new starters on O-line, but senior center David Andrews is terrific.
  • Junior WR Malcolm Mitchell (572 yds in 2012) is back. He played just one game last year, recovering from an ACL.  Senior WRs Chris Conley (651 yds) and Mike Bennett (538 yds) are both back.
  • 2013 Georgia Defense: 29 ppg (79th) - Rebuilding last year and slipped, so they hire DC Jeremy Pruitt (Florida State), a top coordinator. He was an assistant at Alabama, too, so he knows the SEC. Former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham ran a 3-4 approach, but Pruitt's multiple looks on defense should make for an easy transition.
  • The 2013 Bulldogs defense created only 15 takeaways.
Linebacking corps could be best in the SEC with senior Ramik Wilson + Amarlo Herrera.
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