Stuckey’s Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Betting Preview & Odds: It Could Turn Into a Laugher
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and quarterback Trevor Lawrence
- Stuckey breaks down the massive betting odds for Clemson vs. Georgia Tech, which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday night.
- The Yellow Jackets are undergoing a massive transition away from an option offense under first-year coach Geoff Collins, while Clemson is replacing pieces on defense but loaded on offense.
Georgia Tech at Clemson Betting Odds
- Odds: Clemson -37
- Over/Under: 60.5
- Moneyline: GT +8000, Clemson -21,500
- Date: Thursday, Aug. 29
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ACCN
- Location: Clemson, S.C.
Clemson will begin its national title defense on Thursday night with a conference game, but it’s much less appealing than it sounds. The Tigers will take on a Georgia Tech team that should struggle tremendously this season.
Before I get into the bet I like in this game and the reasons why, we have to start by talking about the extreme changes going on at Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech hired former Temple head coach Geoff Collins this past offseason to run the show. Collins has since done the previously unthinkable and began transitioning Tech from an option offense to a more modern spread attack.
I do think the transformation will benefit the program long term. Especially since Collins is an excellent recruiter who can secure the talent necessary to successfully compete with this type of offense in a Power 5 conference.
However, I doubt it will work out in his first year. The Yellow Jackets simply don’t have the personnel on their current to roster for it to succeed in 2019.
Most of the kids were recruited for an option offense, so it’s not like Collins has highly-touted pro-style quarterbacks or proven receivers at his disposal.
Speaking of quarterbacks, one of three Georgia Tech players could get the nod at QB in this one (and we may see all three). And whomever steps in under center will be playing behind an offensive line that’s had to learn all new splits and blocking schemes.
I like the under 60 here.
It might not be easy to pull the trigger and ultimately could require a great deal of sweat, but I think it’s the right play.
When Clemson Has The Ball
Let’s start with Clemson’s offense. I don’t need to go into too much detail about how explosive this unit will be with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Ettiene and two outstanding wideouts. This offense is elite.
So, can Georgia Tech do anything to slow down the Tigers?
Well, the defense doesn’t return much but Collins, a defensive guy, should have an immediate impact there. Still, we’re talking about one of the nation’s least-efficient secondaries in 2018 going up against Lawrence. (Hey, at least they didn’t give up too many big plays?)
More importantly, I don’t think Clemson will want to show many wrinkles and/or keep its offensive stars out for any longer than needed with a huge game against Texas A&M on deck. That game is arguably the only potential regular season loss on its schedule, even though the Tigers will still be more than two-touchdown favorites.
Head coach Dabo Swinney has also mentioned during the summer he hasn’t been happy with his depth and the drop-off after the first team, so he may want to get even longer than normal looks at his backups to evaluate them in game situations.
Clemson should move the ball at will, but a more bland game plan and quicker-than-usual hook for the starters will certainly help the under.
When Georgia Tech Has The Ball
I’ve already stated how low I project Georgia Tech’s new-look offense.
Implementing a completely different scheme with players that don’t necessarily fit said scheme is difficult enough but doing so on the road in the season-opener against the No. 1 team in the nation is a different animal. This might get as ugly as it sounds.
As a result, I think Collins will still heavily lean on the run game, which is by far the strength of the team. I expect a very conservative Georgia Tech plan of attack, which will clearly help the under by keeping the clock moving and limiting potential mistakes.
However, that raises a real concern for the under: will Clemson basically start at midfield every possession after Georgia Tech sputters and punts? It’s a fair question and a potential nightmare scenario for the under.
Not as much as you might think.
Clemson will be breaking in a brand new defensive line after losing a plethora of NFL talent up front. The Tigers will also have two new starting linebackers. So, while still potentially great, this unit up front won’t be as dominant as last year’s defense — at least early on.
Georgia Tech should be able to grind a few yards on the ground and move the sticks at times to basically get into more favorable punting position.
And when Georgia Tech does punt, it at least has a punter with a very good leg in Pressley Harvin III, who was named to the preseason Ray Guy Award Watch List. Harvin, the No. 1 ranked punter in the class of 2017, can absolutely boom the ball.
Additionally, Clemson will be without its best punt returner, Amari Rodgers, who’s still recovering from his torn ACL. Both factors should help limit the field position advantage of Clemson and the under.
My Bet to Watch: Under 60.5
Maybe Georgia Tech comes out with a unique spread that catches Clemson off guard or it turns it over seven times. Clemson could also score 60-plus themselves.
While all the possibilities, I’ll take my chances on the under that I’d play down to 59 based on my number.
I’ll also look at the second-half under for the reasons I mentioned above. Plus, there’s plenty of competition at various positions on Clemson’s defense. Expect the first and second units to play hard throughout the second-half.