BY AARON BRENNER | email@example.com
Each week this season, you’ll get an early yet detailed peek at Clemson’s upcoming opponent right here on the Tiger Tracks blog. Be sure to like us on Facebook.
Who: No. 5 Georgia (12-2, 7-1 SEC last year) at No. 8 Clemson (11-2, 7-1 ACC)
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium (81,500) | Clemson, S.C.
Radio: Clemson Radio Network | WQSC-AM 1340 in Charleston (Affiliates)
Line: Georgia by -1.5
What to know about Georgia: Ten starters return to the offense that averaged 37.8 points per game in 2012, 18th in the country … that includes quarterback Aaron Murray, whom the SEC coaches voted preseason 1st-team all-SEC quarterback over Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and two-time BCS champion AJ McCarron … as freshmen, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 2,144 yards and 25 touchdowns … eight defensive players were drafted into the NFL last April, so it’s somewhat of a transition year for Todd Grantham’s defense … curiously, Georgia has not announced whether kicker Marshall Morgan, arrested in late June for boating under the influence, is suspended against Clemson … Georgia is the culprit in two of Clemson’s three season-opening losses since 1999 (Alabama, 2008) … head coach Mark Richt is 15-1 against the ACC.
When last they met: Georgia thrashed Clemson 30-0 in Death Valley on Aug. 30, 2003, the second straight year beating the Tigers with Richt as its head coach. Georgia, the reigning SEC champions, had eight players suspended for the game, but quarterback David Greene was 12-for-17 for 203 yards and a score, while Clemson allowed rushing TDs to quarterbacks Greene and D.J. Shockley. Meanwhile, Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw for just 151 yards on 33 attempts, and the Tigers, who have not been shut out since that night, failed to reach 200 total yards (just 35 rushing yards on 24 carries.) This particular meeting was Clemson’s first game with wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney on staff.
All-time series: Georgia leads 41-17-4, but the squads are squared away at 9-9-2 in 20 meetings in Clemson. The Bulldogs have won five straight going back to 1991. The Bulldogs have taken two of three clashes when both squads are ranked, and the teams have never met in an all-top-10 affair.
Which Clemson Tiger is licking his chops: Junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins, aching to bounce back from a sophomore slump and openly noticing Georgia’s issues in the secondary due to youth, injuries and a suspension to safety Josh Harvey-Clemons.
Who’s keeping the Clemson coaches up at night: Do not dare discount tight ends Arthur Lynch (senior) and Jay Rome (sophomore), who combined for 35 catches, 583 yards and five touchdowns last year. With Clemson’s lack of size in the front seven and depth in the secondary, Lynch and Rome could have big nights on underneath routes, opening gaps for Murray going deep and Gurley and Marshall taking handoffs. By the way, Rome’s father, Stan, played football and basketball at Clemson in the late 1970s.
Extra point: Early in 1980, No. 10 Georgia beat Clemson 20-16, going on to win the national championship. Early in 1981, Clemson beat No. 4 Georgia 13-3, going on to win the national championship. The winner of Saturday’s top-8 showdown makes an early statement for BCS contention.