All eyes this weekend will be pointed toward Death Valley as the No. 5-ranked Georgia Bulldogs prepare to clash with the No. 8-ranked Clemson Tigers. Both teams are expected to bring plenty of offense to the game, and Vegas believes it will be a shootout.
This game, however, is not just about rankings, conference bragging rights or wins and losses.
This game is about two programs trying to break the stereotype of being underachievers. Both Clemson and Georgia have a history of high preseason rankings only to falter, leaving broken expectations.
Georgia and Clemson both have reasons to believe they have turned the corner, and both will have a shot to prove it Saturday night.
How Clemson Could Win This Ballgame
Clemson's offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, has been extremely successful using various formations and shifts to create mismatches against the opposition. With only three returning starters on the Bulldogs defense, he could have a feast on the new starters.
Georgia is very talented and has several future All-SEC players who will be on the field Saturday. At the same time, they're very young.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham cannot let his defense give up the big play early. If he does, the Clemson home crowd will become a madhouse. That very scenario happened last season in South Carolina, and the result was a blowout defeat.
If Clemson can get star wide receiver Sammy Watkins going early, the Tigers could deflate the young Georgia defense. Look for Clemson to try to get Watkins involved in both the running and passing game.
If they can get Watkins going early, fellow wide receivers Martavis Bryant and Charone Peake should be able to get involved as well.
Clemson will need to force a couple of turnovers in this game because Georgia has the most balanced and lethal offense the Tigers will see all season.
How Georgia Could Win This Ballgame
The Bulldogs have their hands full with trying to slow down the Tigers. At the same time, they can move the football on any college football team they play.
Fifth-year senior Aaron Murray is looking for a Heisman statement, but it is the running game that will get it all started. If the Bulldogs are able to run the football like they are projected, Murray will have a field day as well.
Georgia has too many weapons in the passing game, and if they are able to get one-on-one coverage in the play-action pass, he will have his choice of receivers and tight ends.
The Bulldogs will need to make stops and play disciplined football on defense. If they are able to keep the big plays to a minimum, they can run away with this game.
Both Georgia and Clemson have high-octane offenses. Georgia led the nation in touchdown plays over 20 yards, 30 yards and 50 yards while also leading the nation in yards per play.
Clemson played three SEC teams last season (Auburn, LSU and Clemson) and were 2-1 in those three games. However, their offense was not near as gaudy, averaging 22.7 points per game.
Both teams are very similar. However, Georgia has more weapons because of their ability to run the ball with the traditional I formation or sling the football around with four wide receivers. In the end, I think their ability to run the football will be the difference.
Final Score: Georgia 31, Clemson 27
Stat Line: Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combine for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
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