Georgia Tech at Clemson
October 27, 2017
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards is on a 19-7 tear in college football during the month of October. He owns a 39-21 record (65%, +16.4 units) for the season. Brian is the #1 overall money leader and is ranked second in winning percentage out of 37 college-football handicappers on VI! Don't miss out on any of his pay-if-they-win-only selections for Week 9!
With zero room for error in terms of its hopes to garner a third consecutive berth to the College Football Playoff, Clemson (6-1 straight up, 4-3 against the spread) is poised to host Georgia Tech on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
As of early Friday afternoon, most books had Clemson installed as a 14-point favorite with a total of 48. The Yellow Jackets were available on the money line for a +475 return (risk $100 to win $475).
Dabo Swinney’s team has had two weeks to prepare for Paul Johnson’s team. This was vital after shockingly losing 27-24 at Syracuse two Fridays ago. Clemson saw starting QB Kelly Bryant leave the game at the Carrier Dome with a concussion in the first half. Syracuse never trailed, although there were four ties, on its way to the upset as a 24-point home underdog.
The ‘Cuse was in control the entire way, and Clemson was fortunate to get a defensive touchdown on a 63-yard fumble return The Orange enjoyed a 440-317 advantage in total offense. Before leaving the game, Bryant had completed 12-of-17 passes for 116 yards, but an ankle injury had him hobbling around and unable to utilize his effective scrambling skills.
In Bryant’s absence, redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper connected on 10-of-14 throws for 88 yards. True freshman RB Travis Etienne rushed for a team-best 68 yards and one TD on merely five carries. Tavien Feaster ran for 57 yards and one TD on just seven attempts. Hunter Renfroe finished with five catches for 64 yards, while Deon Cain hauled in seven receptions for 55 yards.
Clemson has won all four of its home games, going 2-2 versus the number. The Tigers have wins at Death Valley vs. Kent State (56-3), vs. Auburn (14-6), vs. Boston College (34-7) and vs. Wake Forest (28-14). They own a pair of impressive road triumphs at Louisville (47-21) and at Va. Tech (31-17).
Bryant is listed as ‘probable’ and is expected to get the starting nod. For the season, the junior signal caller has connected on 67.6 percent of his passes for 1,375 yards with a 4/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s run for 393 yards and seven TDs, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
Renfroe is Bryant’s favorite target, bringing down 34 balls for 346 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has 30 receptions for 314 yards and one TD, while Cain has 24 catches for 299 yards and two TDs.
Clemson has a deep stable of RBs led by Etienne, who has a team-high 446 rushing yards and six TDs with a 8.7 YPC average. Feaster has run for 389 yards and three TDs while averaging 5.9 YPC, but he is listed as ‘questionable’ this week with a hamstring issue.
Clemson’s defense is ranked 10th in the nation in total defense, 21st versus the pass, 13th at defending the run and seventh in scoring by allowing only 13.6 points per game.
Georgia Tech (4-2 SU, 6-0 ATS) could easily be unbeaten as it blew late fourth-quarter leads in both of its defeats. Johnson’s squad led Tennessee by seven in its opener and was deep in UT territory before fumbling. The Volunteers would score at late TD to force overtime and eventually capture a 42-41 win in double OT.
After ripping off three straight wins by margins of 18 points or more, Georgia Tech went to South Florida to take on Miami. The Yellow Jackets led nearly the entire game, including an 11-point advantage late in the third quarter and an eight-point edge early in the fourth. Nevertheless, UM rallied and a 24-yard field goal with four ticks remaining lifted the Hurricanes to a 25-24 victory.
Georgia Tech bounced back last week to knock off Wake Forest and hook up its backers like me in a 38-24 win as a 3.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The Jackets trailed 24-19 late in the third quarter, but they scored the last 19 points. Junior QB TaQuon Marshall put the game on ice when he sprinted to the end zone for a 70-yard TD run with 1:57 left.
Marshall ran for 163 yards and two TDs on 23 attempts. He also threw for 68 yards by completing 5-of-11 throws. KirVonte Benson rushed 26 times for 136 yards and one TD.
For the season, Marshall has completed 27-of-52 passes (51.9%) for 456 yards and five TDs without an interception. He has run for 704 yards and 11 TDs while averaging 4.9 YPC. Benson has rushed for 652 yards and five TDs with a 5.6 YPC average.
In the rare instances when Georgia Tech throws the ball, Marshall’s favorite target is Ricky Jeune, who has 15 receptions for 267 yards and three TDs.
Georgia Tech is ranked second in the country in rushing offense, averaging 372.8 yards per game on the ground. The Jackets are 34th in scoring with a 34.7 PPG average. As for the stop unit, Georgia Tech is ranked 20th in the nation in total defense, 20th versus the run and 34th in scoring ‘D’ (20.8 PPG).
Georgia Tech owns a 16-11 spread record in 27 games as a road underdog during Johnson’s 10-year tenure. The Jackets are 2-0 ATS in a pair of games as ‘dogs this season.
The ‘under’ is 4-2 overall for Georgia Tech, 1-0 in its lone true road assignment. The Yellow Jackets had seen four straight ‘unders’ until the 62 points soared ‘over’ the 49-point total in last week’s win over Wake Forest. Their games have averaged combined scores of 55.5 PPG.
The ‘under’ is 5-2 overall for Clemson, 3-1 in its home games. The Tigers have seen their games average combined scores of 47.0 PPG.
When these teams met on The Flats in Atlanta last year on a Thursday night, Clemson ended a five-game losing streak at Bobby Dodd Stadium by dominating the Yellow Jackets from start to finish in a 26-7 win as a 10.5-point road ‘chalk.’ The 33 combined points easily stayed ‘under’ the 58-point total. McCloud had eight receptions for 101 yards for the winners.
Georgia Tech is 0-4 both SU and ATS in its last four games at Clemson, dropping each one of those encounters by a margin of at least 14 points. The ‘over’ has cashed at a 4-1 clip in the last five head-to-head meetings at Death Valley.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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