In the best of circumstances this would be a mismatch. Given the circumstances at hand this could get ugly. New Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins couldn’t have asked for a tougher challenge in his first game at the Yellow Jackets helm. Georgia Tech is transitioning from the triple option offense run by Paul Johnson who retired after last season to a spread attack. The Jackets were a very senior heavy team last year and lost a lot of talent returning 5 starters on offense and 4 on defense with only one defensive line starter returning. The change in offensive philosophy and rebuilding defense are a significant challenge as it is but Collins gets to start his run at Georgia Tech facing a Clemson team laden with NFL level talent at Death Valley.
Clemson actually suffered worse losses on defense than Georgia Tech including the entire starting line from last year’s National Championship team. Not sure that matters much since Dabo Swinney and company have a bumper crop of blue chip recruits with which to rebuild. Offense is a different matter–the Tigers return eight starters on offense including QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne. There’s a reason that Clemson is favored to defend their title.
One of the biggest differences between the very good football teams that Clemson put on the field early in Dabo Swinney’s tenure as head coach and the flat out dominating ones they do now is their ‘killer instinct’. For a long time, the Tigers were a ‘go against’ when laying big prices at home. No more. Last year they went 15-0 SU but 9-4-1 ATS. That pointspread record is impressive since they were double digit favorites in every game except the National Championship game. Tigers on a 13-8-1 ATS run as double digit favorites and enter on a 8-1-1 run against the spread during which they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 36 PPG.
Clemson is on a 10-4 SU/9-4-1 ATS run at home against Georgia Tech and a 17-1 SU/11-5 ATS run against conference opponents. Last year’s game in Atlanta was a mismatch with Clemson leading 42-7 in the third quarter before cruising to a 49-21 win and easy cover as a -15.5 favorite. Geoff Collins did good work at Temple and during his tenure the Owls were an excellent pointspread team and particularly as an underdog (6-2 ATS in their last 8 getting points). There will definitely be situations in which we can use the Yellow Jackets this year but this game will be all Clemson. Tigers’ offense scores at will.