When the No. 16 Clemson Tigers visit the No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, it will be one of the most anticipated games of the opening weekend. It’s an ACC vs. SEC showdown with teams that host a bunch of new characters. We already know that Todd Gurley is a star. By the end of the game, we will also know that Clemson has a star with Cole Stoudt at quarterback.
Clemson Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs
When: Saturday, Aug. 30. 5:30 p.m.
Where: Sanford Stadium
Clemson used Cole Stoudt sparingly as Tajh Boyd’s backup in 2013. In his limited snaps, Stoudt was as productive as any quarterback in the country. He completed 79.7 percent of his passing attempts, while scoring five touchdowns for Clemson. Stoudt also didn’t throw one interception last season. This is his first time starting and it’s going to be in hostile territory, but there’s no reason why Cole Stoudt shouldn’t flourish from the opening kickoff.
Clemson will have to use a committee of running backs to get the job done at Georgia. They lost Zac Brooks to a foot injury during camp, but they have a stealth of young backs ready to make an impact for Clemson. They also have veteran D.J. Howard to provide Clemson with some balance.
Defensively, the Clemson Tigers will have their eye on the Todd Gurley all day. Gurley is probably the best running back in the country and despite all of Georgia’s talent, he is the playmaker that makes the whole offense work.
The Georgia offense will be without a few of their most explosive weapons. Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcom Mitchell will not be available. However, Keith Marshall is probable for a return to action after suffering a knee injury last season.
Hutson Mason finished last season as the starter once Aaron Murray went down with an ACL injury. Therefore, he has experience in big games, but this is his team to lead throughout the season. Mason will be critical in the Georgia passing game, especially off of play-action plays.
Georgia did not have a great defense last season, and it all started with the first game against Clemson. They’ll face a different type of Clemson offense, and they might even see multiple quarterbacks. However, it all begins with making tackles in the open field.
Clemson won’t have the likes of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant this season, but Georgia should expect more explosive athletes to compete at the wide receiver position. It’s where newcomers come on the scene and make a name.
Todd Gurley gets his Heisman campaign underway. Expect the Georgia running back to go for 200 yards tonight. If not, he will be extremely close. Since Clemson won a close game at home last year, it’s a must win for the Georgia Bulldogs.