No. 1 Clemson opens defense of title against Georgia Tech
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.
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.