Clemson vs. Georgia (21). When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Where: Charlotte. Line: Clemson by three. How big is it: With the No. 3 and No. 5 teams in the AP poll, this is the highest-ranked opener since No. 1 Alabama beat No. 3 Florida State in 2017. That game turned out to be a bit of a dud, and the Seminoles’ season was doomed after a late injury to quarterback Deondre Francois. Let’s hope for better this time.
The overreaction if Clemson wins: Kirby Smart still can’t win the big one. He’s just a recruiter who is slightly better than Mark Richt but will never be Vince Dooley.
The overreaction if Georgia wins: Clemson’s run is done. Opponents have figured out the defensive signal stealing and it’s over.
Reality: Barring a 40–0 result, the loser of this game sustains no irreversible damage. The winner can start dreaming College Football Playoff dreams.
Stat: Dabo Swinney is 11–1 in season openers, with his only loss to Georgia. Smart is 5–0.
Matchup: How does Clemson’s good-not-great offensive line fare against a Georgia front seven that features half a dozen NFL prospects?
Dash pick: Georgia 24, Clemson 21.
If I recall correctly, the over/under is in the fifties, so Forde is really sold on both team’s defenses.
But if I were a Georgia fan and not just a gambler sitting on an array of Bulldogs future tickets — and I’ll get to those — I would feel good about this team. Not overly confident. Good. History says feeling any other emotion might be unwise.
Now, things aren’t perfect. The injury bug has already impacted Georgia at tight end (Darnell Washington) and defensive back (Tykee Smith). Arik Gilbert, the team’s star offseason acquisition, is also currently not with the team for personal reasons.
These issues are real, but elite teams can overcome these types of issues. And to me, Georgia is not only an elite team but the best team in college football.
I bet Georgia to win the national title. The Bulldogs are currently + 700. I bet them to win the SEC (currently + 200). I have them over 10.5 (currently -130). And I have J.T. Daniels to win the Heisman (currently 12-1).
And yes, I like Georgia (+ 3) against Clemson this week in what could wind up being the best game of the college football season.
The talent across both sides of the ball at seemingly every position is spectacular. And while quarterback has always been a mixed bag, JT Daniels has the gifts to change that.
The narrative, of course, says otherwise. Unfair or not, Georgia has long been regarded as a resource-rich team incapable of conquering the sport despite so many advantages and close calls. Given the historic and absurd run of Alabama in the same conference, that feels a bit unfair.
From his lips…
And, finally, from The Athletic’s Austin Mock ($$):
Georgia under 10.5 +105 (projected for 9.9 wins)
Georgia opens up with the equivalent of a playoff game against Clemson where they’re an underdog, so 0-1 isn’t far-fetched. The offense did start to click when J.T. Daniels was inserted as the starter, but I’m not sure the opponents were of the quality where I’m giving the Georgia offense the benefit of the doubt. Add in Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs always dropping a game they have no business losing, and you can understand why Georgia under 10.5 at plus money has value.
And there’s your turd in the punch bowl.