No. 1 Clemson opens defense of title against Georgia Tech

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              FILE - In this April 6, 2019, file photo, Clemson's Travis Etienne (9) rushes out of the tackle attempt by Derion Kendrick during Clemson's annual Orange and White NCAA college football spring scrimmage in Clemson, S.C. Etienne is one of three Clemson Tigers selected an AP preseason All-American along with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and linebacker Isaiah Simmons. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro, File)
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Georgia Tech (7-6, 5-3 ACC last season) at No. 1 Clemson (15-0, 8-0), Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern (ACCN).

Line: Clemson by 35 1-2.

Series record: Georgia Tech leads 51-31-23.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Clemson looking to open its chance at a second straight national title and fifth straight Atlantic Coast Conference crown.

KEY MATCHUP

Inexperienced Clemson defensive front against Georgia Tech’s new, non-option offense. The Tigers lost all four of starters up front (Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence were all first-round NFL draft picks) and three of those spots were game-time decisions. The Yellow Jackets enter the season in a non-run based attack for the first time in 12 seasons under new coach Geoff Collins.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Georgia Tech: Tailback Jordan Mason gained 659 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He will have to take a large part of the load since Georgia Tech’s three returning quarterbacks combined for just 17 passes last season.

Clemson: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence helped the Tigers take flight after he was named the starter in week five as the offense averaged better than 45 points a game the rest of the way. Lawrence finished with 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns passing last season.

FACTS & FIGURES

Clemson has not hosted a Thursday night game since 2013 and that was also against Georgia Tech, a 55-31 Tigers’ win … Georgia Tech’s first-year coach Geoff Collins is nicknamed the “Minister of Mayhem” … The Aug. 29 game is the earliest start in history to a Clemson season … Clemson sophomore receiver Justyn Ross is looking to tie a Clemson record with his third straight 100-yard receiving game. Two of the program’s five record-holders currently are NFL wideouts DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins … Georgia Tech has switched to a pro-style offense from the option attack run by former coach Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets have also changed to a 4-5-2 defensive scheme from their 3-4 scheme … Clemson has won its past four games over Georgia Tech … The game is the first one on the newly launched ACC Network.