Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne (9) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field.
- No. 3 Clemson is favored on the road by 15 against Georgia Tech with a total of 51.5.
- The Tigers are 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six meetings with Georgia Tech
- Georgia Tech's option offense has struggled in recent years against Clemson.
Neither No. 3 Clemson nor Georgia Tech is inspiring much confidence right now. The Tigers are 3-0, but haven’t looked dominating like Alabama or Georgia.
Georgia Tech is 1-2 overall, but you could argue it hasn’t been quite as bad as it looks on the surface.
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Paul Johnson’s squad is doing what it does best: The Yellow Jackets lead the nation in rushing with 392.7 yards per game. Georgia Tech has gone over the 400-yard mark on the ground twice already this season.
Quarterback TaQuon Marshall leads the way with 293 yards and three touchdowns while also completing 47% of his passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns.
Turnovers and special teams have kept the Yellow Jackets from winning their last two games on the road, and if either one of those issues creeps up against Clemson on Saturday in Atlanta, it’s going to be a long day for the home team.
Georgia Tech ranks 122nd in the nation with eight turnovers, and the kick coverage unit gave up a pair of touchdowns at South Florida.
The defense, which has shown some improvement under new coordinator Nate Woody, is giving up 302.3 yards per game and has allowed only one play of 40-plus yards, a 60-yard flea-flicker by Pittsburgh.
But the Yellow Jackets are facing a different animal in Clemson, which is tied for second nationally with nine plays over 40 yards.
The Clemson running game excelled last week, rushing for 309 yards as a team, including 162 yards by Travis Etienne. The Yellow Jackets gave up more than 5 yards per carry at USF two weeks ago.
But Clemson, which is using Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence to average 9.6 yards per pass and throw seven touchdowns, could also hurt Georgia Tech through the air. The Yellow Jackets haven’t been able to produce a consistent pass rush and have just three sacks all season.
Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell has five by himself, and that’s come against two option teams. Plus, the Tigers’ defense has a recent history of shutting down Georgia Tech’s option.
“If you find something that’s giving them a problem, they can adjust,” Johnson said about the Clemson defense. “They create a ton of negative plays and sacks. When you break down the Georgia Southern game, I think at one point Georgia Southern had run 30 plays for 39 yards.”
It’s hard to envision a Yellow Jacket squad that hasn’t scored three touchdowns in a game against Clemson but once in the last three meetings putting up big points in this one.
Then again, the Tigers haven’t shown the propensity to put teams away. Clemson is 0-3 against the spread this season. So is Georgia Tech.
Something’s got to give.
The home team has won eight of the last nine meetings straight-up, but Clemson is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings.
Can either one of these teams truly be trusted?
Based on recent history, it’s better to go with what you know will show up — Clemson’s defense — and hope that the Tigers’ offense plays a more limited rotation and with more urgency in their first ACC game.
The under, which is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings at Georgia Tech, might be the safer play.
Prediction: Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 10