College Football Picks: Clemson Will Cover Spread In Glorified Scrimmage Vs. Wofford

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, September 2, 2015 12:37 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 2, 2015 12:37 PM GMT

It's essentially a scrimmage for No. 12 Clemson Saturday as the Tigers get a warm-up for ACC play when they host Wofford. Clemson is -39.5 College football odds with a total of 46.5.

Scouting Wofford
Can't say I've previewed a Wofford football game before -- I have basketball as it's a good little Division I school in that sport. The Terriers play football in the FCS Southern Conference with the likes of Furman, Chattanooga and The Citadel. Wofford was selected fourth in the preseason poll.

Wofford finished 6-5 last year, missing the FCS playoffs, and 4-3 in conference. It also opened 2014 at an ACC powerhouse, losing 38-19 to Georgia Tech, which was unranked at the time but would go on to play in the ACC title game. In 2013,  Wofford opened at Baylor and was destroyed 69-3. Wofford gave Clemson a scare in 2011, leading 21-13 in the second quarter before falling 35-27.

The Terriers bring 19 starters back. Coach Mike Ayers runs an old-school wishbone attack. That offense was No. 3 in the FCS last season in rushing (296.7 yards and 35 touchdowns on 575 attempts) and worst in passing (69.4 yards per game, just 63 completions and eight interceptions). Since the start of the 2010 season, the Terriers are 26-13 when they throw the ball 10 times or fewer in a game and 12-9 when it's 11 or more. Running back Lorenzo Long was first in rushing on the team with 930 yards and 15 touchdowns on 163 carries and is back. On defense, Wofford was ninth in rushing defense and 74th in passing yards allowed to rank 23rd in total defense.

The school hasn't officially named a starting QB for this game yet, although it would be an upset if it's not junior Evan Jacks. He began last season as the No. 1, and despite playing only six games because of injury, Jacks was the team’s third-leading rusher and completed 60 percent of his passes. He is battling senior Michael Weimer, sophomore Brad Butler and sophomore Brandon Goodson.

This marks the 18th time in the past 17 seasons that Wofford has played a member of the FBS. Overall, Wofford is 1-16 in those games. It beat Louisiana-Monroe in 2000. It's no real suprise they are such underdogs on the College Football odds market almost 40 points.

This game will be shown on ESPN3 as part of ESPN's new College Extra package. That brings hundreds of ESPN3 exclusive live college sports events to the TV. ESPN College Extra live events from FBS conferences (including the ACC, The American, Big 12, MAC and Sun Belt) and FCS conferences and shown on up to eight channels through a sports tier or other affiliated TV package. This is the first game on the service.

 

Watson A Heisman Candidate
Clemson brings back 11 starters off last year's club, including just four off a defense that was No. 1 in the country. In addition, one of the nation's best offensive coordinators, Chad Morris, left to take the SMU head coaching job. The Tigers finished 10-3 in 2014, capped by an impressive blowout of Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. All three losses were to ranked teams: 45-21 in the season opener at No. 12 Georgia, 23-17 in overtime at No. 1 Florida State, and 28-6 at No. 22 Georgia Tech.

The key guy back is quarterback Deshaun Watson, who showed signs of superstardom as a freshman in 2014, although he missed the bowl game with a torn ACL in his left knee that forced him to also miss spring ball. Watson, the No. 1 QB recruit in the Class of 2014, played in eight games with five starts due to injury. He completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,466 yards, 14 touchdowns and two picks. He also rushed for 200 yards and five scores. This guy is an electric talent and can win the Heisman if he stays on the field. The Tigers have two very good young receivers in Mike Williams (57 catches, 1,030 yards, six TDs) and Artavis Scott (76 catches, 965 yards, eight TDs). Tailback Wayne Gallman returns after totaling 769 yards and four TDs as a freshman.

This offense should be outstanding. The defense has to be semi-rebuilt after losing  the likes of All-ACC players like defensive end Vic Beasley, linebacker Stephone Anthony, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and cornerback Garry Peters. But Clemson has one of the nation's best coordinators on that side of the ball in Brent Venables.

 

Final Analysis: Coach Dabo Swinney probably just wants to get Watson a half of action and work him back slowly; Clemson has another pushover next week in Appalachian State. Still, I don't see how Wofford can stop the Tigers, and how they can not be our winning pick for this warmup game.

 

College Football Pick: Give the 39.5 points and go 'OVER' 46.5

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