Clemson Tigers Vs. Georgia Bulldogs Free Pick 8/31/13

Clemson Tigers Vs. Georgia Bulldogs Free Pick 8/31/13
2013-08-31 07:00:00 EDT

The Clemson Tigers welcome in the Georgia Bulldogs in week one of the 2013 college football season.

The Clemson Tigers finished 11-2 overall last year and 7-1 in the ACC. Head coach Dabo Swinney is thrilled to have senior QB Tajh Boyd back for his senior season. Boyd threw for 3,896 yards and 36 touchdowns last year, while only thiteming 13 interceptions. Boyd will have the luxury of four starting linemen returning from last season and the offensive line should be a major strength. Senior RB Roderick McDowell will replace RB Andre Ellington in the backfield this season. Junior WR Sammy Watkins had an outstanding freshman season, but his numbers slipped last year thanks to a drug arrest that led to a suspension, along with lingering injuries. Watkins will be counted on to step up and be the number one receiver this season as WR DeAndre Hopkins left for the NFL. The defense improved as the season progressed in 2012. Despite the loss of leading tackler Jonathan Willard and starting safeties Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks, the Tigers’ defense should be even better this season. The defensive line should be solid with juniors Josh Watson, DeShawn Williams, and Grady Jarrett forming a formidable three-man rotation at defensive tackle. Senior LB Spencer Shuey, a great tackler, will be the leader of the defense this season. The secondary is led by sophomore S Travis Blanks, who was a 2012 freshman All-American. The secondary will need to become more consistent this year as the unit was a disaster at times last season.

The Georgia Bulldogs finished the 2012 season with a 12-2 record overall. The Bulldogs will have senior QB Aaron Murray back after deciding to forego the NFL Draft for one more year in Athens. Murray is the NCAA active leader with 95 career touchdown passes. The backfield will be led by sophomore RB Todd Gurley, who is an All-American selection after rushing for 1,385 yards in his freshman year. Receiver remains the deepest position on the offense, and probably the entire team. WR Malcolm Mitchel and WR Chris Conley will lead the receiving unit this year, while junior college transfer Jonathan Rumph will factor into the rotation immediately. The offensive line has a ton of experience, returning five starters and their backups from a season ago. The offense will need to carry most of the load for the Bulldogs as the defense tries to regroup from losing so many players. The defensive line will have a ton of new faces this season, while DE Garrison Smith will start and figures to be the only senior starter on the defense. The linebacker unit only returns junior Amarlo Herrera and sophomore Jordan Jenkins. Herrera will be the leader of the defense and is the team’s returning leading tackler. Jenkins has been labeled the team’s best defensive playmaker. The secondary lost three starters from last year, as CB Damian Swann is the lone returner. Swann led the Bulldogs with 4 interceptions, including two in the bowl game. Georgia should have an explosive offense this season, but their defense will need to step up in order for them to reach the SEC championship again.

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These are two teams that have high expectations this year so this game has huge implications on where these teams will stand at the end of the year. I always give the SEC the advantage over any other conference, especially the ACC. However, Clemson may be the exception this year. With Boyd under center and a great front seven on defense, I think the Tigers have the ability to run the table this year. Death Valley is a tough place to play and I think Georgia will have trouble slowing down the Tiger’s high powered offense. I think Clemson wins a close, high scoring game.

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Mitch Wilson's Free Pick:
Clemson +2; Over 69 (highly rated)
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Mitch Wilson

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