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SportsLine's advanced computer model simulated Thursday's Clemson vs. Georgia Tech game 10,000 times.
The last time the Clemson Tigers took the field was on Jan. 7 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Clemson upset No. 1 Alabama 44-16 that night, the worst-ever Crimson Tide loss under Nick Saban, to win the school's second national championship in three years. The Tigers enter this season ranked No. 1 in both major polls and begin defense of their title Thursday in ACC action against unranked Georgia Tech. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET from Memorial Stadium in Clemson. Last year's Tigers became the first school to finish 15-0 since the 1800s and first in the College Football Playoff era to go unbeaten. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is coming off a 7-6 campaign under former coach Paul Johnson. The Tigers are 37-point favorites in the latest Clemson vs. Georgia Tech odds, up a field goal from where the line opened, and the over-under is 60.5. Before you make your Week 1 college football predictions, be sure to see the Clemson vs. Georgia Tech picks from the SportsLine Projection Model.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times, and those who have followed it have seen massive returns. Over the past four years, this proprietary computer model has generated a jaw-dropping $4,530 profit for $100 bettors on its top-rated spread picks.
The model enters the first full weekend of the 2019 college football season on a blistering 49-29 run on all top-rated picks. It also called Miami (+7) covering against No. 8 Florida in the season-opener and hit the under. Anybody who has been following it is way up.
Now, it has set its sights on Clemson vs. Georgia Tech. We can tell you the model is leaning over, and it also says one side of the spread hits in well over 60 percent of simulations. That pick is only available at SportsLine.
The model knows Clemson has won 29 of its last 30 home games. Its last loss at Memorial Stadium was as a 21.5-point favorite against Pittsburgh on Nov. 12, 2016, and that defeat was by just one point. Last year, the Tigers blew out every visiting opponent but one (Syracuse). Twelve starters return from the championship team, led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite Trevor Lawrence as well as arguably the country's top running back, Travis Etienne, another Heisman contender. Clemson has yet to have a Heisman winner.
The Tigers have won the past four meetings with Georgia Tech, covering the spread three times. Last year in Atlanta, Clemson won 49-21 as a 16-point favorite. Lawrence wasn't even the team's starting quarterback yet, but came off the bench to throw four touchdown passes and was the starter from that point forward. Etienne rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and Tech was held to 203 total yards and just 57 passing.
But just because the Tigers are No. 1 in the country and heavily favored on Thursday doesn't mean they'll cover the Clemson vs. Georgia Tech spread.
The Yellow Jackets have the edge of surprise because it's not quite clear what they will look like offensively after all those years running the option. The Jackets will run a spread, pro-style offense this season under Collins and new offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude, who also came from Temple.
"Who knows?" Swinney said recently to the media when talking about what to expect from Georgia Tech's offense. "There's a lot we don't know about them. It's that way every year, every opener. You have to get ready schematically for what you think they might do." Clemson coaches have studied tape from Collins' time at Temple. The Yellow Jackets are 4-2 all-time when opening the season against an ACC opponent.
GAMETHREAD: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Clemson Tigers
IT’S FINALLY GAMEDAY!!! Now normally, I’ll be putting some kind of preview in the How to Watch post, but I waited a bit too long to decide that I wanted to do that, so it’s going to be in the Gamethread today. For these previews, I’ll be looking at a few different things to be keeping an eye out for, whether that be how a particular player looks or a certain match up, and then I’ll give my score prediction, so let’s get into it!
Who exactly will be starting tonight?
This is something we’ve known since the Geoff Collins hire was announced, but Georgia Tech isn’t releasing a traditional depth chart, but rather an “Above the Line” chart. With the way the chart is set up, no starters are listed at this time. Instead, starters from the previous week will be listed in bold. This week, though, there is no such luxury, and we’re left guessing until toe meets leather tonight.
What exactly is the offense going to look like?
We got a brief look at the offense during the spring game, but I’m sure Dave Patenaude still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Looking at the Above the Line chart, Georgia Tech will have plenty of options to play with tonight, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of it as Tech tries to find some kind of hole in a young Clemson defense.
A battle of depth in the trenches
Clemson is pretty stacked on both lines. To put that in perspective, Clemson lost nearly their entire defensive line from last year, and they are still expected to have one of the best defensive lines in the country. Tech, on the other hand, is expected to be in the midst of a transition year. There’s also been a good bit of shuffling along both lines, so we’ll probably see a few different assortments of linemen.
Tech’s secondary is talented, but so is Trevor Lawrence
If you’ll remember back to our bold predictions, I made the prediction that Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter will be considered the best safety duo in the ACC. That wasn’t just a way-out-there prediction; I think they’re both pretty good safeties, and they’ll face a big test tonight — along with the corners — as they face the best quarterback in college football. Trevor Lawrence has talent on talent on talent, so he’ll be a tough test for the Tech secondary.
Will we see more than one kicker for Georgia Tech?
Sophomore kicker Wesley Wells was placed on scholarship after last season and is expected to be the starter again this year, but he isn’t the only kicker Above the Line. Now, I know it’s always a good idea to travel with a back-up kicker, but I think there’s a chance that Brenton King will also be out there. From some stuff I’ve read, King is finally healthy — something that has hindered him his entire career — so now that he’s healthy, we could finally see what he can do.
48-24, Clemson wins.
Good teams win, but great teams cover. Yeah, let’s go with that. Tech covers the spread. I think we’ll see everything Tech has to throw tonight. Tech’s best bet in this game will be mixing up tempos and trying to take advantage of a young Clemson defensive line. At the end of the day, though, I don’t see Tech being able to keep up with the depth that Clemson has accumulated over the years. Trevor Lawrence is also a generational talent, so not many defenses are going to be able to stop him. I think we’ll also see some good promise from Tech. I think Clemson is just in another league right now.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2019: WHERE TO WATCH GEORGIA TECH VS. CLEMSON, TV CHANNEL, LIVE STREAM, ODDS
Seven months after Clemson thrashed Alabama to win a second national championship in three years, the Tigers get their title defense underway at home against Georgia Tech.
Dabo Swinney's team became the first team in the history of the playoffs era to go 15-0 last season and is the bookmakers' favorite to win back-to-back titles.
It is hard to disagree with the prediction, given Clemson, the No 1-ranked team in The Associated Press poll, has retained the core of its championship team.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is back and, in Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, Swinney has some frightening offensive options at his disposal.
Lawrence was named the Offensive MVP of the National Championship and Cotton Bowl games and is a joint favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, alongside Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
"I just try to enjoy everything," Lawrence told USA Today.
"I'm really hard on myself as far as on the field, just [...] knowing I'm not going to be perfect and just enjoying the moment and everything with those guys [his teammates]."
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers' defense has lost some pivotal figures, but defensive coordinator Brent Venables can still count on key players such as Isaiah Simmons.
The Tigers' four defensive linemen and two of their linebackers are new starters, but Xavier Thomas, Logan Rudolph and Justin Foster have already caught the eye.