On Saturday gambling website BetOnline.com released point spreads for all of the FBS football games that will be played in the opening week of the 2013 season, giving fans and sportswriters across the country both an early look at how the bookies see the first games of the new year playing out as well as an excuse to talk about August and September games in mid-May.
While a majority of the Week One games can be overlooked due to lack of importance (UCF favored by 28 over Akron doesn’t exactly grab headlines), several games will in fact be worth watching, including games featuring SEC teams like LSU vs TCU, Alabama vs. Virginia Tech, South Carolina vs. North Carolina,
and Florida vs. Toledo. Not to be overlooked by these games is the matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers, a game which features one of the SEC’s best traveling to the Palmetto State to take on one of the ACC’s best in the renewal of a rivalry that has 57 previous meetings but none since 2003.
The odds-makers seem to understand how evenly matched these teams appear to be, as the odds on this game currently sit at Clemson being one-point favorites over Georgia. This must leave some Bulldogs and SEC fans speechless, but there is definitely method in the madness of a team from the mighty Southeastern Conference being underdawgs (see what I did there?) to a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Here are the four reasons why the Tigers may very well beat the Bulldogs come August 31st.
Reason #1: Clemson Memorial Stadium. The Tigers definitely have a home field advantage in Death Valley, as Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney holds an impressive 26-5 record when his team plays in the confines of their own stadium. Clemson has also mastered the art of winning the opening home game of the season, as the team is 24-2 in home openers since 1997, which includes nine straight wins.
Reason #2: Georgia’s Defense. Georgia’s defense as a unit was not exactly breath-taking in 2012, but they did get the job done at the end of the day in eleven of the team’s thirteen games. This bend-but-don’t-break defense will be comprised of almost all new faces this season, as ten of the team’s eleven starters from the beginning of last season have graduated or decided to take their talents to the NFL. It always takes some period of time for a defense to settle in and get adjusted to the new starters on the team, but it remains to be seen how long it will take this Dawgs’ D to be ready for something hardly any of these players have experienced.
Reason #3: Tajh Boyd. Highly regarded as a promising prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft before ultimately deciding to return for his senior season, Boyd was very efficient for the Tigers in 2012, completing 287 passes for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. As if his passing ability was not enough, Boyd is also very versatile when the need arises, shown by the 514 yards and 10 touchdowns he accomplished via the ground. It remains to be seen whether Boyd or Aaron Murray is the more talented player, but what is clear is that their meeting on the last Saturday night in August promises to be an epic battle.
Reason #4: Clemson vs SEC. If you honestly believe that Clemson is not capable of handling a strong SEC opponent, consider this: the Tigers have beaten at least one SEC opponent five of the last six years. It is clear that these cats are not pushovers when it comes to playing top-of-the-line non-conference opponents, so if you are expecting to see one team completely bulldoze over the other, I suggest you look elsewhere.
Will the Bulldogs really fall to the Tigers? It remains to be seen, but all I know is that I’m grateful for having this season-opening game over the likes of Buffalo, UL-Lafayette, or Georgia Southern.