College Football Pick
Clemson still holds a top ranking in the AP Poll, but the Tigers have been far from convincing in the early season. They’ll open ACC play at Georgia Tech, a team that’s looking to bounce back from a disappointing three-win campaign.
Surprisingly, the main issue for Clemson in the early going has been on the offensive side. Quarterback Deshaun Watson just isn’t playing as well as he did a season ago. While the opening Game can be excused at Auburn, struggling to take down Troy in the second weekend was something Tigers fans should start to worry about. against the Trojans, a team with Four wins in 2015, as a five-touchdown favorite, Clemson could only muster 13 points in the first three quarters. While they finally came around in the Fourth, a 30-24 win was a bit worrisome.
After completing close to 68% of his passes last season, Watson was just 27-of-53 against Troy for three TDs and two INTs. With all of the returning talent, it was expected that this offense would reach last year’s levels or even better. However, that hasn’t been the case in any facet of the Game. Watson isn’t getting much on the ground, nor is running back Wayne Gallman, who has just one touchdown.
The Tigers had no problems scoring or winning in this Game a year ago in a 42-24 result. Gallman needed just 13 carries to reach 115 yards and a couple touchdowns, while Watson completed 21-of-30 passes for 265 yards and a couple touchdowns. Now in Atlanta, will the Yellow Jackets put up a better fight?
At the least, Georgia Tech already has a Conference win over Boston College, so that’s already one step above last year when they waited until late October to get that ACC win. That said, Tech hasn’t exactly played a good offense yet. In fact, they haven’t really played a mediocre offense yet. Boston College and Vanderbilt are both known for having stout defenses, but not much on the offensive end.
But maybe Clemson’s struggles will continue into this Game, in their first ACC road test. Going back to last year, the Tigers still weren’t blowing out many teams on the road, outside of one Miami beat down. Tech can stay close in this matchup against a beatable Clemson defense, but nothing has looked that much improved for the Jackets offensively.
Quarterback Justin Thomas has run the show with the team looking a little better than a year ago, but still not at levels seen in 2013 or 2014 when the Yellow Jackets ran over almost every opponent. Down early in last year’s meeting, Thomas was forced to pass more than he wanted and that resulted in a 6-for-14 passing day. In the ground Game, they managed just 71 yards on 42 carries, which obviously wasn’t going to be enough.
To cover this Game, Tech will have to do much better than that, but it’s not out of the question. Clemson gave up 141 yards and 4.3 yards per carry to Troy and one has to think GT can do better.
The Tigers may be undefeated, but it hasn’t been pretty. They’ll get another road challenge here and the cover will be there for the Yellow Jackets, unless Deshaun Watson can return to what he did a year ago for the Clemson offense.
At +10 or more, we’ll bite on the home dog. Otherwise, we’ll pass. Georgia Tech +10 or better.