College Football Pick
The National Champions will start their season with a new quarterback, but with a favorable opening Game, there shouldn’t be any trouble. Clemson is a large -40 point favorite (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) hosting the MAC’s Kent State, which finished with three wins a year ago.
Before the Tigers have to face Auburn and Louisville, they get to stretch their legs a bit with a good matchup. The new man under center Kelly Bryant should have a good welcome to the college Game with plenty of tools at his disposal. While guys like Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman and Mike Williams are gone, Bryant will still have Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow and Ray-Ray McCloud in the receiving Game with C.J. Fuller in the backfield. The level of talent isn’t a huge question also with Four starters back on the line. The question is at quarterback where Bryant has to fill the shoes of Watson. If all goes well, Clemson will post 40-plus points in this Game.
That said, the Golden Flashes were better on the defensive side last season, holding Penn State to 33 and Alabama to 48 points. The problem is that their secondary lost some key pieces and that won’t help against the talent of Clemson. If Bryant can come in and make plays through the air, that would help in covering. But with the spread at 40 points, the Tigers will have to show up defensively, as well.
Kent State will roll with senior Nick Holley at quarterback, who attempted the most passes (146) on the team last year, although that only amounted to Four touchdowns. He’s more of a threat on the ground as he ran for 920 yards and 10 touchdowns, but finding room against Clemson won’t be easy. The Flashes return their top running back and receiver in Justin Rankin, while Raekwon James (25 receptions) leads at receiver. Not many things went right for this offense last season and the hope is that Holley can give some consistency to the group.
Per usual, Clemson will have one of the better defenses in the country, which doesn’t help Kent State’s chances. Guys like Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant stand out on the line with Van Smith roaming at safety. Kent State has a big wall to climb in this one and it would probably be considered a positive if the team could reach double digits.
The bigger thing for Clemson in this Game will be to get the offense going. If not, it’ll be hard to cover the 40 points. But with a possible shutout in the cards on the other end, the Tigers may only need 40 points. The Golden Flashes have just 12 wins in the last Four seasons under Paul Haynes and there’s little reason to believe in the team this year, especially against Clemson in the opener.
Our Pick – Clemson -39.5 and OVER 51