Georgia Tech vs Clemson: Seven months after Clemson thrashed Alabama to win a second national championship in three years, the Tigers get their title defense underway at home against Georgia Tech.
Dabo Swinney’s team became the first team in the history of the playoffs era to go 15-0 last season and is the bookmakers’ favorite to win back-to-back titles.
It is hard to disagree with the prediction, given Clemson, the No 1-ranked team in The Associated Press poll, has retained the core of its championship team.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is back and, in Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, Swinney has some frightening offensive options at his disposal.
Lawrence was named the Offensive MVP of the National Championship and Cotton Bowl games and is a joint favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, alongside Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
“I just try to enjoy everything,” Lawrence told USA Today.
“I’m really hard on myself as far as on the field, just […] knowing I’m not going to be perfect and just enjoying the moment and everything with those guys [his teammates].”
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers’ defense has lost some pivotal figures, but defensive coordinator Brent Venables can still count on key players such as Isaiah Simmons.
The Tigers’ four defensive linemen and two of their linebackers are new starters, but Xavier Thomas, Logan Rudolph and Justin Foster have already caught the eye.
LIVE NOW || Dabo Swinney previews the Georgia Tech game, set for 8 p.m. on Thursday on ACCN. #ALLIN https://t.co/FObSlX01TH
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) August 26, 2019
Georgia Tech is a five-touchdown underdog against its ACC rivals, but coach Geoff Collins is more interested about long-term prospects than in his team’s chances against the defending champions.
The Yellow Jackets have endured an extensive overhaul in the summer as they hope to successfully transition from former coach Paul Johnson’s spread offense to offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude’s strategy.
Patenaude worked with Collins at Temple and joined his former colleague when he moved to Georgia Tech during the offseason.
“We have to worry about us because this has been a complete transformation of a football program unlike a lot that has happened in a long time,” the Georgia Tech coach said earlier this week.
Collins has been deliberately coy about his team selection, declining to reveal his starters for the opening game of the season. Instead, he released a so-called “Above the Line,” a list of players who might start against Clemson.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Thursday night.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson Tigers
Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers rushes against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the College Football Playoff National Championship held at Levi’s Stadium on January 7 in Santa Clara, California. The Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 44-16. Jamie Schwaberow/Getty
When and where is the game?
The Clemson Tigers host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina, on Thursday, August 29.
Kick-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
The game will be broadcast nationally by the ACC Network.
A live stream will be available via the ACC Network’s digital platforms, as well as via fuboTV.
Georgia Tech and Clemson have played each other 83 times since their first meeting in 1898, with the Yellow Jackets leading the all-time series 50 wins to 31.
Unsurprisingly, however, Clemson has won the last four games, with an average margin of 20 points. Georgia Tech last beat the Tigers in November 2014.
According to Oddschecker, Clemson is a 38-point favorite and 11/10 to win and cover the spread, while Georgia Tech is a 20/1 outsider.
The over/under bar for points scored, meanwhile, is set at 52.5.