Georgia vs. Clemson Odds, Picks, Betting Preview: The Best Bets College Football Week 1’s Game of the Day (Saturday, Sept. 4)
Tony Walsh/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Nakobe Dean #17 of the Georgia Bulldogs.
- The Clemson Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs meet for a heavyweight college football clash in Charlotte.
- Both teams are ranked in the top five with College Football Playoff aspirations.
- Check out or staff's favorite betting angles for the game, below.
Georgia vs. Clemson Odds
After a full day of college football that included No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami, what better way to ease into the night action than a top-five matchup between No. 2 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia?
Despite limited action with their current teams, both squads feature Heisman Trophy candidates under center in DJ Uiagalelei for Clemson and JT Daniels for Georgia.
The sides also possess some of the most talented players in the country on both sides of the ball. That raises a question, though: Where is the betting value?
Don’t worry — our college football staff is here to answer that very question. Our writers navigated all of the potential plays for this top-five matchup and came up with five total picks, including plays on the spread, plays on the total, and a first-quarter total.
We’ve been waiting for this Clemson-Georgia matchup for months, so let’s get to the action.
Our Staff’s Best Bets for No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 2 Clemson
The set of college football team logos below reflects each of our college football staff’s best bets for Saturday’s Duke’s Mayo Classic featuring No. 5 Georgia and No. 2 Clemson.
Click one of the bets in the “Pick” column below in order to navigate to that specific section in this article.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Photos via Getty Images.
Clemson makes the switch from Trevor Lawrence to D.J. Uiagalelei, which should be seamless given how talented Uiagalelei is. If you remember back to last season, he started games against Boston College and Notre Dame when Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19.
Uiagalelei was outstanding in both of those games, averaging over eight yards per pass attempt and registering a 77 passing grade per PFF. He gets Justyn Ross back from injury, which is huge for the Clemson offense, considering he was the No. 9 graded wide receiver in 2018 and 2019 by PFF.
The Georgia defense brings back a ton of talent in the front seven and is projected to be one of the best in the SEC, but the secondary has some question marks. They’ll be relying on Clemson transfer Derion Kendrick and freshman Jalen Kimber, which is not ideal for a defense that ranked 15th in coverage last season.
JT Daniels will be under center after starting the final four games of the 2020 season. He was tremendous in those, averaging 10.2 yards per attempt and throwing 10 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions.
However, he will have to deal with the loss of his best receiver George Pickens, who tore his ACL in the spring. The offensive line returns three starters and they return all of their running backs from last season, but the Bulldogs are going to have a really tough time going up against the best front seven in college football.
Clemson’s front seven might be the best that defensive coordinator Brent Venables has ever had. The Tigers return Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee, both of whom made the freshman All-American team and were both top-10 recruits coming out of high school.
Top linebacker James Skalsi returns and three starters are back in the secondary for a defense that ranked fourth in defensive success rate and first in rushing success rate allowed.
I have Clemson projected as a -6.20 favorite and if you look at Collin Wilson’s PRO Projections, he has Clemson projected as a -4.80 favorite, so I think there is some value on Clemson at -3 or better.
Clemson and Georgia square up in the Queen City for their respective season openers on Saturday night.
The Tigers will be looking to fill massive shoes after Trevor Lawrence was a no-brainer No. 1 overall draft pick last spring, while Georgia will look to carry the positive momentum of a QB change last season into 2021 with JT Daniels.
Clemson enters this season having lost its winningest quarterback in school history and all-time leading rusher. No need to panic, though, Clemson appears poised to reload. D.J. Uiagalelei takes the reins on offense as QB1. You will remember him from a hard-fought game against Notre Dame last year when he threw for over 400 yards as a true freshman.
Uiagalelei has a rocket launcher for an arm and has shown a penchant for great decision making under pressure. (Check out his dad on Instagram too, Big Dave, he’s an awesome follow.)
The running back corps are led by Lyn-J Dixon and a few other untested backs. Behind a line that is returning three starters, Dixon & Co. will be able to find success running.
Look for the Clemson passing game and its experienced receiving corps to carry the offense initially as the run game finds its footing.
The Tigers are returning nine defensive starters from a team that led the nation in sacks and finished 15th in FBS total defense. The defensive front seven will be rested and healthy after being plagued by injuries last season. All four starting cornerbacks are back too. The Tigers defense will be one of the best in FBS again.
For Georgia, Daniels took over starting QB duties late last season and showed head coach Kirby Smart enough to keep the job heading into 2021.
The Bulldogs are deep in the backfield and at receiver. From an offensive standpoint, they definitely have what it takes to hang with Clemson. The problem is that you can’t say the same about their defense.
The secondary is a massive question mark for Georgia as it looks to replace departed veterans. Uiagalelei will be prepared to pick on the Georgia secondary from the first position.
I have Clemson projected as 6-point favorites based on my model. Uiagalelei will be ready for his official coming out party, and the Tigers defense has the ability to cause enough problems for JT Daniels to cover the spread.
Take Clemson at -3 or better, and I’d recommend 1 unit.
By Alex Hinton
It is always fun when we are treated to a top-five matchup to kick off opening weekend.
I would not be surprised if Georgia and Clemson faced off again in the College Football Playoff. Both programs pride themselves on having dominant defenses. In Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings, Clemson’s defense ranks fourth and Georgia ranks fifth.
It starts with the defensive line for both programs. For the Tigers, Myles Murphy, Bryan Breese, Tyler Davis and Xavier Thomas highlight a deep unit up front, while Travon Walker, Jordan Walker and Nolan Smith star for Georgia.
Clemson has not recruited as well on the offensive line as it has at other positions on its roster. It was evident in its last two College Football Playoff matchups against LSU and Ohio State, both losses. Clemson will also be breaking a new left tackle after Jackson Carman departed for the NFL.
Georgia has recruited much better than Clemson up front offensively, and that will give the Bulldogs a better chance to matchup with Clemson’s defensive line than Georgia. The Bulldogs have a deep running back room featuring Zamir White, Kendall Milton and James Cook.
Clemson is turning to Lyn-J Dixon to replace ACC all-time leading rusher Travis Etienne. Georgia will have more success running the ball and stay out of long yardage situations, which will keep the pressure off JT Daniels and not allow Clemson’s defensive line to pin its ears back.
One player to keep an eye on is Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick. Kendrick was dismissed from Clemson for off the field incidents, and you know he’d love to get back at Clemson. I expect him to make a big play at a pivotal moment.
This is a matchup of evenly matched teams, and I expect a very tight game. I think Georgia has a little more talent and I will back the Bulldogs at +3.
By Doug Ziefel
We are in for a treat to start the season with this one. This collision of top-ranked programs will be different from those we have seen in recent years.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are going to have a much different look offensively. Losing both Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne leaves a big hole behind and creates a lot of question marks with the offense.
Stepping in under center will be sophomore D.J. Uiagalelei. He was forced into action last year and proved to be more than capable, especially when he led the Tigers to victory over Notre Dame in South Bend.
Uiagalelei will have a huge weapon back as Justyn Ross returns from injury after missing the 2020 season. Ross had a big year in 2019 that included a coming-out party in the College Football Playoff. Look for their connection to play a big role in the Tigers’ success.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has far fewer concerns about his offense entering the 2021 season. The Bulldogs return eight starters, the two most important being quarterback J.T. Daniels and running back Zamir White.
Daniels started the final four games last season and sparked the offense. The Bulldogs put up 37.3 points per game when Daniels started, which was a big jump from 29.3 without him. White, whose nickname is “Zeus,” is one of the best backs in the nation. He ran for 779 yards while scoring 11times at 5.4 yards per carry last season. White and Daniels should combine to form a very dangerous offense for the Bulldogs.
This matchup is going to be a battle between the opposing defenses. These two units are stacked as the Bulldogs have a potential top-five unit at every level of the defense. The Tigers may even be better since they return nine starters from a defense that ranked second last year in defensive havoc.
While each of these offenses contains talent, there are also a lot of unknowns entering this game. What we do know is how dominant these defenses can be. I’m going to bank on them to challenge these offenses that might also start slow in the first game of the season.
According to Bill Connelly’s SP+ preseason rankings, this is a meeting of the No. 4 and No. 5 preseason defenses.
Clemson, despite building an offense around an all-world quarterback last fall, struggled to generate chunk plays in the passing game. The Tigers’ true home run hitter, Travis Etienne, has moved on to the NFL and they’re banking on Justyn Ross to immediately return to pre-injury form on the outside.
Even against a Georgia team that is replacing three starters in their secondary, I view this as a tall task for Big Cinco and the Clemson passing attack.
On the Georgia side, the injury to George Pickens and absence of Arik Gilbert will be felt acutely against a stacked Clemson defense. The Tigers defensive line in particular is going to make life hell on JT Daniels, which is why I’m banking on a conservative gameplan from Kirby Smart and Todd Monken.
Georgia’s Zamir White and James Cook should be the offensive focal point out of the gate, running directly into a run defense that only allowed 112 yards per game on the ground last fall.
If this game was to be played in October, I might feel differently about a predicted slow start. But with so many questions needing to be answered at wide receiver for both teams, I feel confident in a defensive showcase in the first fifteen minutes of action.