The game, which kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET, will feature a pair of quarterbacks with 2013 Heisman Trophy aspirations. Aaron Murray of Georgia surprised many by returning for his senior season. Murray very well could have been as high as a 2nd round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. This will be Murray’s 4th full season as a starter which is a college football rarity these days. In his first 3 seasons in Athens Murray has passed for 10,095 yards and 95 touchdowns. Murray has also accounted for 9 rushing touchdowns of his own.
Senior Taj Boyd returns as the starting signal caller for Clemson. In the last 2 seasons Boyd has passed for 7724 yards and threw 69 touchdown passes. Boyd has also rushed for 775 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career at Clemson.
Georgia enters this season with high expectations. We will know a lot about the Bulldogs by the end of September. Georgia faces a murderous early part of the schedule. After opening at #8 Clemson on Saturday, their following game is their home opener exactly one week later versus #6 South Carolina. They close out the month with a home contest versus #12 LSU. If they somehow were to escape that brutal early stretch unscathed they would be in a prime position to have a legitimate shot at reaching the BCS Title game next January. Especially considering the fact they don’t face Alabama during the regular season.
The highly scrutinized Mark Richt returns for his 13th season as head coach at Georgia. Despite a career record of 118-40 in his first 12 seasons, Richt has often came under heavy criticism by the Bulldogs faithful.
Georgia comes off a successful 12-2 season and was just one clutch play in the final seconds of the SEC championship game away from playing for a national championship. The Bulldogs suffered a narrow 32-28 loss to eventual BCS champion Alabama in that contest.
With Murray at the helm and 10 returning starters on offense this is a Georgia offense that has the capability of being unstoppable this upcoming season. Preseason All-American running back Todd Gurley and tight end Arthur Lynch are sure to give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares when preparing for this lethal unit. The Bulldogs averaged 38 points and 468 yards of total offense per game a season ago. The big concern for Georgia may possibly be on the defensive side of the ball where they return just 4 starters.
Clemson comes off an outstanding season as well going 11-2. Their only 2 losses on the year came at Florida St. 49-37, and versus in state rival South Carolina 27-17 in the final regular season game of the year. The season did end on a high note with a 25-24 bowl upset win as a 5.5 point underdog in the college football odds, versus LSU.
The Tigers return 6 starters on each of the ball. Besides the previously mentioned Taj Boyd, the Clemson offense also possesses 1st team preseason All-American Sammy Watkins. In his first 2 seasons at Clemson Watkins caught 139 passes for 1927 yards and 15 touchdowns in spite of an injury-plagued sophomore season.
Dabo Sweeney returns for his 5th full season as head coach of the Clemson Tigers. Sweeney shed the interim tag after the completion of the 2008 regular season after taking over midway through the year for Tommy Bowden who abruptly resigned after a 3-3 start. Sweeney has a career 40-21 record in his tenure at “Death Valley”.
Although the offense has seemed to improve by leaps and bounds on Sweeney’s watch the defense in that same time frame has progressively been worse every year. If the Tigers can get by Georgia in their opener they have the potential be 11-0 heading into their final regular season game at hated rival South Carolina.
I see this as being a closely contested contest throughout with both teams taking turns moving the ball offensively in big chunks. When push comes to shove, I would have the slightest of leans on Georgia minus the small number in sports picks. The Bulldogs have gone a remarkable 49-8 in non-conference games under Mark Richt. The Georgia defense is far from one of the better stop units in the country but they are the more capable of the two defenses in this game when it comes to getting a stop when it counts the most. Bet the Bulldogs for your college football picks.
NCAA FB Pick: Bet Georgia -1.5 on the spread at 5Dimes
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