NCAAF Picks: Week 1 Preview, Clemson Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 1:34 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2014 1:34 PM UTC

The Clemson Tigers lose a lot of talent on the offensive end, but their defense will keep things close against the Georgia Bulldogs in their season opener next month. Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for this ACC/SEC matchup at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

<p><b style="font-size:1em">Some question marks</b><br /> <span style="font-size:1em">Clemson is 2-5 SU when starting a season away from home since 1970, while it must replace a 3,000-yard passer, 1,400-yard receiver and 1,000-yard rusher, but it does welcome back 12 starters.</span></p> <p><a href="/college-football/team-report/clemson-2/" target="_blank" title="Team Stats for the Clemson Tigers">The Tigers</a> also have 19 senior scholarship players on their roster, which happens to be the highest such number since Dabo Swinney took over the program seven years ago.</p> <p>College football handicappers will keep a close eye on the quarterback competition on campus, as senior Cole Stoudt is expected to earn the starting spot, but many believe that freshman Deshaun Watson will make a run at the position.</p> <p><br /> <b style="font-size:1em">Revenge</b><br /> <span style="font-size:1em">Georgia is getting ready to avenge a 38-35 loss to Clemson as 1.5-point road favorites last season, as it won the statistical battle by a 545-467 margin, but that was with the Southeastern Conference’s all-time passing leader in tow.</span></p> <p><a href="/college-football/team-report/georgia-56/" target="_blank" title="Team Report for Georgia Bulldogs">The Bulldogs</a> will begin life without four-year starter Aaron Murray, who was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the <a href="/picks/nfl/handicappers-talk-winners-losers-the-2014-nfl-draft/39508/" target="_blank" title="Winners &amp; Losers in the 2014 NFL Draft">2014 NFL draft</a>—finishing his career with 13,166 passing yards and 121 touchdowns in Athens.</p> <p>Senior signal-caller Hutson Mason will take over the reigns offensively, as the program attempts to improve its record to 17-1 SU in its last 18 home openers.</p> <p><br /> <b style="font-size:1em">Getting after it defensively</b><br /> <span style="font-size:1em">The Tigers must be respected when looking over the college football odds page, considering they led the country with 122 tackles for loss a season ago, with 96.5 percent of that production returning.</span></p> <p>There are 12 returning ACC players who had at least 10 tackles for loss in 2013, and five of those are suiting up at Clemson this year.  </p> <p>All-American <a href="" target="_blank" title="Handicappers offer great insight in the SBR Forum">Vic Beasley is the main player to handicap in this matchup,</a> considering he was tied for third in sacks per game along with tying for 10th in caused fumbles.</p> <p><br /> <b style="font-size:1em">A leaky stop unit</b><br /> <span style="font-size:1em"><a href="" target="_blank" title="According to some bettors, his replacement is a bit overdue">Mark Richt is definitely on a bit of a hot seat</a> entering his 14th year as the head coach at Georgia, considering the defense allowed an average of 29 points per game in 2013—the second-highest figure in school history in that all-important statistical category.</span></p> <p>The Bulldogs welcome back eight starters on that side of the ball, including their top two tacklers in Ramik Wilson (133) and Amarlo Herrera (112).</p> <p><br /> <b style="font-size:1em">Prediction</b><br /> <span style="font-size:1em">I’m going to recommend that readers <a href="/picks/college-football/" target="_blank" title="Find more NCAAF Week 1 picks at Sportsbook Review">back the Tigers as one of their Week 1 college football picks,</a> as they’ve won six games against SEC opponents during the Swinney era, while the Bulldogs are a disappointing 5-8 ATS as home favorites since 2012.</span><br /> <b style="font-size:1em">Pick:</b><span style="font-size:1em">  Clemson Tigers +9.5</span></p> <p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":293713, "sportsbooksIds":[43], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p>
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