Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Prediction: Tigers attempt to swat the bees

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech (Noon ABC).
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech (Noon ABC).

Clemson and Georgia Tech meet for the 86th time on the gridiron when the teams square off in Atlanta Saturday.

Fresh off of its most impressive win of the Geoff Collins era, a 46-27 triumph over Louisville last Friday night, Georgia Tech hosts top-ranked Clemson at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Clemson dominated what was then a No. 7 Miami team 42-17 in Death Valley last Saturday night.

Saturday’s game marks the first time that Georgia Tech will host the nation’s No. 1 team since a 3-3 tie versus No. 1 Notre Dame at Grant Field on Nov. 8, 1980.

NO. 1/1 CLEMSON (4-0, 3-0 ACC) at GEORGIA TECH (2-2, 2-1 ACC)

TELEVISION: ABC (Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Marty Smith)
RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
RADIO: ESPN Radio (Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones)
SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 137, XM 193, Internet 955


OVERALL: Clemson trails series, 32-51-2
HOME: Clemson leads series, 16-6
ROAD: Clemson trails series, 14-44-2
NEUTRAL: Clemson leads, 2-1
LAST MEETING: Aug. 29, 2019 (52-14, W)
STREAK: Clemson, Won 5


*Georgia Tech’s on-campus tailgating policy for Saturday’s game versus Clemson will remain the same as the first two home games of the season. Tailgating will not be permitted on campus. Lots will open two hours before kickoff (10 a.m.). Stadium gates will open 90 minutes before kickoff (10:30 a.m.). Discounted stadium concessions items are available for the first hour after gates open (10:30-11:30 a.m.).

*This week, Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive Heisman favorite who is 29-1 as a starter, will attempt to become the fourth quarterback in school history to win 30 games as a starter, joining Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson, all three of whom are tied for the school record with 32 each.

*Head Coach Dabo Swinney is attempting to secure his 135th career win as a head coach to pass Virginia's George Welsh (134) for the second-most career wins by an ACC head coach. At the time of his retirement following the 2000 season, Welsh was the winningest head coach in ACC history prior to being passed by Bobby Bowden.

*Clemson is attempting to win a 26th consecutive game against an ACC opponent, including postseason play. A 26-game winning streak against conference opponents would pull Clemson within two games of the 2012-15 Florida State Seminoles for the second-longest streak in ACC history.

*Clemson enters the game having won 33 consecutive regular season games, the longest such streak in ACC annals. Clemson's last regular season loss came in October 2017 at Syracuse.

*Clemson is attempting to win a 37th consecutive non-bowl game, which would tie the 1992-96 Nebraska Cornhuskers for the third-longest streak in the AP Poll era. Clemson has won 36 straight non-bowl games, including 33 regular season games and three conference championship games.


True freshman quarterback Jeff Sims was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the second time this season after throwing for 249 yards, rushing for 64 and accounting for three touchdowns in last Friday’s win over Louisville. He is the only quarterback in the nation who has passed for at least 240 yards and run for 60 yards or more in three games this season.

Led by Sims, Georgia Tech has totaled more than 400 yards of offense in every game this season, marking the first time that the Yellow Jackets have had four-straight 400-yard games since 2014 and the first time they’ve opened a season with four-consecutive 400-yard games against FBS opponents since 1999.

That’s the good news for Tech. The bad news is that Sims leads Georgia Tech in rushing (251 yards to 231 for Jahmyr Gibbs) and struggles throwing the football. Sims has thrown five touchdown passes and eight interceptions, and you can imagine that Brent Venables will have much the same gameplan he had against Miami’s D’Eriq King – flood the pocket with defenders, disguise coverages, and make Sims beat you with his arm.

Saturday's contest offers one matchup of contrasting strengths. Clemson enters the game tied for second in the country with 18 sacks this season, while Georgia Tech ranks tied for seventh in the nation in sacks allowed (two). Clemson faced a similar challenge a week earlier, as the Tigers faced a Miami squad that had allowed only three sacks through three games and then racked up two sacks in Miami's first seven plays and three sacks in the first 16 minutes of play en route to a five-sack performance in the win.



Georgia Tech is better defensively this season, but still gives up almost 450 yards per game. That doesn’t bode well facing a Clemson offense which is getting better each week. One thing the Jackets do well is create turnovers. Georgia Tech ranks among the national leaders in turnovers gained (9 - No. 5 nationally), fumble recoveries (6 - No. 2 nationally) and interceptions (3 - No. 27 nationally). That’s the good news for Tech. The bad news is that the Jackets are near the bottom nationally in turnover margin because they turn it over so much, and Clemson is near the top because they don’t.

The Jackets have to pick their poison – do they attack Trevor Lawrence and let Travis Etienne run free? Do they stack the box against Etienne and give Lawrence a field day? Is the middle of the field going to be open because they are attacking the edges? Miami attempted to control the middle of the field last week and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott attacked the perimeter with a vengeance, while Etienne broke ankles and tackles on his way to 220 total yards.

Expect more of the same this week.



Clemson seemed to have many of its special teams problems figured out, and then protection issues reared its ugly head last week on field goals and Miami blocked three BT Potter kicks. The failed kicks were on his line, however, and not Potter, who was 5-5 heading into the contest. Swinney says the issues are fixed, and other than that, the Tigers have been stellar on special teams this season.

Georgia Tech ranks among the nation's top 30 in three different statistical categories on special teams this season — net punting (7th - 44.68 avg.) and punt returns (29th - 9.0 avg.). Senior punter Pressley Harvin III is living up to his reputation as one of the nation's top punters through three games this season. Harvin's 48.1-yard punting average leads the ACC and ranks No. 2 nationally. Of Harvin's 19 punts this season, eight have traveled 50 yards or more, nine have pinned the opponent inside its 20 yard line, eight have been fair caught and only three have been returned, which plays a big part in Georgia Tech ranking seventh nationally in net punting (44.68 avg.) However, Tech kicker Jude Kelly had three of the first four kicks of his career blocked.



It’s a noon kick and Georgia Tech will come out swinging, while it might take the Tigers a little while to get on track. Once they get on track, however, watch out. The Jackets are playing better and they have an identity under Collins, but there aren’t enough playmakers, and what playmakers they have are young and inexperienced. It might be a dogfight for a little bit, and then Clemson will pull away. Far away.


More TigerNet picks

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 51-13 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 52-7 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 55-10 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 44-13 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-7 Clemson*

(* Picking the same score all season)

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet Tony Crumpton
Wake Forest 37-13 CU 42-9 CU 49-10 CU 49-13 CU 47-10 CU 44-13 CU 42-7 CU
The Citadel 49-0 CU 52-7 CU 57-6 CU 59-7 CU 55-0 CU 62-6 CU 42-7 CU
Virginia 41-23 CU 38-12 CU 41-14 CU 52-17 CU 45-16 CU 41-13 CU 42-7 CU
Miami 42-17 CU 37-16 CU 38-23 CU 38-20 CU 37-20 CU 41-20 CU 42-7 CU

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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