In just the second week of the season, the Clemson and Texas A&M Game could tell us how the year will go, at least in terms of the CFP. Both teams looked great in their openers, but neither opponent provided much resistance. Jimbo Fisher is looking to make a statement in his first year at A&M and a win over Clemson would do just that. Still, the Tigers are large -12.5 road favorites with an over/under of 54.5 points at YOUWAGER Sportsbook.
There’s no reason to doubt Clemson, especially against a team that was only 7-6 a year ago. Fisher brings a big name to College Station, but there’s still work to be done if the Aggies want to make some noise in the SEC. Clemson’s biggest problem is still deciding on a starting quarterback. Kelly Bryant started the opener and looked fine, but Trevor LAwrence came on and had three touchdowns on only 15 pass attempts, though Bryant also had a 35-yard touchdown run. The competition will continue in this Game and that may not matter against this defense. A&M held down Northwestern State, but it also allowed more than 30 points per Game last year. The lone reason to consider the Aggies is that they are at home and they battled with Alabama in this situation a year ago.
Per usual, Clemson has tools at every spot on offense and that should shine through unless A&M’s defense took another step over the summer. No matter who is at quarterback, Clemson should move the ball consistently with a stout line and playmakers in the backfield led by Travis Etienne.
To have a chance, the Aggies need to put points on the board against one of the best defenses in the country. Kellen Mond was great last week, but he gets a completely different test in this one. Towards the end of Mond’s time as QB last season, he was struggling to complete passes and finished with just a 51.5% completion rate. Surprisingly, two of his better Games came against South Carolina and Alabama. A&M will likely focus on getting Trayveon Williams going on the ground after he ran for 240 yards in the first Game. The main reason this offense struggled to find consistency last year was because the running Game wasn’t doing anything as Williams finished with less than 800 yards, worse than the 1,057 yards in 2016. Williams ran for 203 yards in the 2017 opener and then passed 100 yards only one more time. If Williams can’t find room against a line that features NFL talent at every spot, A&M will have to rely on Mond.
The Tigers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-Conference Games and 7-3-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Aggies have covered their last Four non-Conference Games and are 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight at home. This will be a tricky test for Dabo Swinney and company, but a dominant defense should lead the way in the end.
Our Pick – Clemson -12.5