Georgia vs. Clemson Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Top-5 Matchup Has Value on Total (Sept. 4)
Pictures by Getty Images. Pictured (left): JT Daniels. Pictured (right): D.J. Uiagalelei.
- The game of the week is finally here, as two heavyweights, Georgia and Clemson, meet in Charlotte.
- Both the Bulldogs and Tigers have national championship aspirations that will receive a big boost with a win tonight.
- Check out Darin Gardner's full betting guide with odds, picks and predictions for the game.
Georgia vs. Clemson Odds
What a way to start the college football season. Two teams with National Championship hopes, two quarterbacks at the very top of the preseason Heisman conversation, and future NFL players everywhere you look.
Expectations are as high as ever for Georgia after seeing what the offense was capable of with J.T. Daniels under center, and Clemson isn’t expected to take any steps back either despite losing one of the best quarterbacks in the history of college football.
Can Georgia make an early statement and establish itself as one of the top National Championship contenders, or will Clemson continue its streak of regular-season dominance?
This isn’t the same Georgia offense from the Jake Fromm days. After J.T. Daniels took over the starting job to close out the final four games in 2020, he led the entire nation in average depth of target.
His aggressiveness brought Georgia’s offense to a whole new level, as the Bulldogs’ top-four games in terms of yards per pass attempt all came under Daniels.
There are still question marks since it was just a four-game sample that included two poor defenses, but there’s more reason for optimism with Georgia’s offense at this point in time than there ever has been in the Kirby Smart era.
Up front, it’s going to be an incredible matchup between Clemson’s defensive line and this Georgia front. There aren’t many offensive lines that will be able to slow down Clemson in the trenches this year, but the Bulldogs have as good a chance as anyone. It performed better in the run game, but it still ranked 25th in Pressure Rate Allowed.
Clemson should still have the advantage here, though, since it returns everyone from a unit that ranked top-10 in Sack Rate, Stuff Rate, Havoc Rate, and Line Yards. If it can get consistent pressure against Daniels, it could be a big edge for the Tigers.
A soft schedule of opposing defenses last year meant that Daniels did not see a lot of pressure, but Cincinnati finally got to him in the bowl game. He was under pressure on 14 attempts in that game, where he completed 50% of his passes for 5.3 yards per attempt and two picks. Over his career, Daniels has really struggled under pressure, with almost as many interceptable passes as completed passes, according to PFF. If this Clemson front can get home, a few mistakes by Daniels could be what decides the game.
Clemson does have some question marks on the back end, however. Cornerback Andrew Booth should be one of the best in the country at his position, but there are question marks at other positions.
The cornerback room took hits with Derion Kendrick’s transfer, as well as an off-field incident that has former five-star Fred Davis’ availability in question. Outside of Booth, there are concerns with how this unit can hold up in coverage.
Georgia’s pass-catching options took a big hit with injuries to wide receiver George Pickens and tight end Darnell Washington, in addition to LSU transfer Arik Gilbert leaving the team recently.
That leaves Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton as the go-to guys down the field, with running back James Cook likely getting plenty of passing game work as well. Georgia’s pass-catchers likely would have had an advantage over this Clemson secondary at full strength, but now there are question marks for both units.
When is the last time a quarterback with two career starts to his name inspired so much confidence going into a new season? To this point, Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei has proved as much as anyone could have hoped for in his limited playing time last season.
Across 87 throws in his two starts, Uiagelelei averaged nine yards per attempt and didn’t throw a single interceptable pass, per PFF.
At receiver, Clemson looks loaded once again. We haven’t seen Justyn Ross since the 2019 season due to a neck injury, but he has been generating first-round buzz since he was 18 years old and should be one of the top receivers in college football this season. There is plenty of significant talent around Ross as well, with Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson, and E.J Williams rounding out the four-deep.
There are concerns about whether or not this group can stay healthy throughout a whole season, but this is one of the most talented wide receiver rooms in the country on paper.
Looking at what Georgia will be putting on the field in the secondary, Clemson’s receivers could have a lot of success in this matchup. The Bulldogs brought in two big-name transfers in former Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick and former West Virginia slot corner Tykee Smith, but Smith will likely miss the Clemson matchup with an injury.
Georgia lost its top-four cornerbacks in terms of snap counts last season, so it will be Kendrick and two inexperienced players in the slot and at the other boundary corner spot.
Kendrick largely played well during the regular season in his Clemson career, but his play dropped off a cliff against tougher offenses. In his last two playoff games (Ohio State in 2020 and LSU in 2019), Kendrick was targeted 17 times, allowing 13 catches for 274 yards and five touchdowns, per PFF. This was also a unit that ranked 72nd in Passing Success Rate allowed last season, so Uiagelelei and Clemson’s receivers could have a productive day in Charlotte.
Up front, it will be interesting to see if Clemson can consistently get a push in the run game. The Tigers have a stud at tackle in Jordan McFadden, but the other four projected starters on the offensive line come with some question marks.
The running game took a step back last year due to the interior offensive line’s struggles in run blocking. “Step back” is a relative term, considering Clemson still ranked 21st nationally in Rushing Success Rate. With four of its five offensive line starters returning, combined with several talented recruits getting another year in the system, there is reason to believe this Clemson offensive line can take a step forward in 2021.
Travis Etienne’s incredible talent is gone in the backfield, and players like him don’t grow on trees. However, Clemson has three pieces that can all carve out a role and be productive.
Lyn-J Dixon is a senior and has been the primary backup for two seasons, so he will likely lead the committee in snaps this season. He’s been extremely productive when given the chance, with 6.6 yards per carry on 208 attempts in his career. Look out for talented freshman Will Shipley as well, as he has made headlines in practice with his athleticism, and was the second-ranked running back in the country in the 2021 recruiting class. He could end up getting a lot of work in the passing game out of the backfield this season.
This Georgia front seven is definitely going to be a good test for Clemson’s offensive line, considering it returns several key pieces to a defense that ranked 21st in Rushing Success Rate Allowed. Georgia looks extremely strong at defensive tackle and linebacker, which could make it tough for this Clemson ground game to get going early on.
Still, Clemson does have a matchup that it could be able to exploit in the passing game.
Georgia vs. Clemson Matchup Analysis
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Georgia Offense vs. Clemson Defense
Clemson Offense vs. Georgia Defense
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Georgia vs. Clemson Betting Pick
Compared to my projection of 56.2, there is an edge on the over here.
I really like how each of these offenses match up against their respective defenses in the passing game, and there is an opportunity for explosive plays on both sides. These are two of the best defenses in the country, but there aren’t many offenses better than these two, either.
I usually tend to just stick to the model in my betting process, and that is the case here.