TV Schedule: Saturday, October 10, 3;30 p.m. ET, ABC
Stadium: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
Line: Clemson (-7)
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-3) travel to Clemson (4-0) to take on the Tigers in a key early-season ACC matchup. For Tech it is a de facto elimination game from any chances of making it to the ACC championship game in December. For Clemson, a lot more is on the line. The freshly ranked No. 6 team in the nation has huge hopes for this season and they can’t have a loss along the way. It’s playoff or bust now for the Tigers.
Coming off of a win over Notre Dame that ended up a lot closer than it should have been, Clemson could potentially be in line for the classic letdown game after a big win. However, I think Dabo Swinney and the team are determined to prove that this is a different, more mentally tougher Clemson team. The Yellow Jackets are coming off of yet another disappointing loss. For them, a season that was full of potential playoff promise has quickly turned into a nightmare. A loss this weekend puts them at 2-4 and in jeopardy of missing a bowl game.
The key for Clemson, as is for any team that plays Tech, is to stay disciplined and in their assigned lanes on defense against the tricky triple option offense. Clemson’s defensive fundamentals and principles will certainly be challenged on Saturday. They must force Yellow Jacket QB Justin Thomas into mistakes and misreads. Georgia Tech then must keep Clemson off balance. Clemson’s defense seemed to hold up pretty nicely against the powerful running attack that Notre Dame has as they only had 116 yards. So, they must show throw sometimes to keep Clemson from sitting run.
The biggest part of this game may come down to Clemson’s mentality — if they can remain focused and motivated after a huge win last week, they should win this game. Deshaun Watson must continue to play at his solid level and not be afraid to use his legs like he did against Notre Dame for 93 yards. The game will be close and will come down to the fourth quarter, but will Georgia Tech have enough firepower to pull a win off on the road in Death Valley?
Prediction: Clemson 27, Georgia Tech 20