Educated Guesses: Week 6
Georgia Tech has been a thorn in Clemson’s side dating back to the turn of the 20th century, but the Paul Johnson era has really been galling as the Tigers try to reestablish themselves as the ACC elite.
Only once in five tries since Johnson’s triple option arrived in Atlanta in 2008 have the Tigers been able to beat their annual cross-division rival. That includes twice in 2009 when the Jackets won again in the ACC Championship game. Even Clemson’s championship season included a blemish in Atlanta.
So it’s no sure thing that Dabo Swinney’s 15th-ranked team will get the job done even in Death Valley against a Georgia Tech team reeling from back-to-back defensive meltdowns on its home field.
Johnson and his defensive coordinator Al Groh are on the hot seat after collapsing late against Miami and then getting pushed around by Middle Tennessee from the Sun Belt. Another loss would drop them to 2-4 and looking at an unlikely road to another bowl game.
Clemson must be licking its chops at that defense with all its star offensive power, but the Tigers have to take care of that triple option to avoid a track meet. First one to stop the other might win.
Based on mindset alone, Clemson should get it done in this border bash undercard. But they should beware a desperate team.
Here are my educated guesses for Week 6:
Georgia @ South Carolina: In the main event, Bulldogs’ offense gets a slight edge vs. Gamecocks’ defense than the other way around. BULLDOGS 23, Gamecocks 20.
Georgia Tech @ Clemson: Just can’t see anyone stopping anyone here. TIGERS 49, Yellow Jackets 42.
LSU @ Florida: Tigers keep winning and falling simultaneously in rankings. Foreshadowing? GATORS 27, Tigers 20.
West Virginia @ Texas: The Big 12 might regret adding Mounties of Texas can’t stop them. LONGHORNS 51, Mountaineers 45.
Miami @ Notre Dame: If only this were an ACC game, Irish might be championship bound. FIGHTING IRISH 38, Hurricanes 24.
Washington @ Oregon: Nice win over Stanford, but not road-win in Oregon caliber. DUCKS 42, Huskies 21.
Nebraska @ Ohio State: Urban Meyer keeps finding ways to win despite some shaky efforts. BUCKEYES 24, Cornhuskers 21.
Oklahoma @ Texas Tech: First Big 12 home game will have Lubbock jacked. RED RAIDERS 35, Sooners 28.
Northwestern @ Penn State: Are the Wildcats for real? This will show a lot. WILDCATS 24, Nittany Lions 17.
Georgia Southern @ Western Carolina: Big win last week gets GSU back into rightful place in Southern race, EAGLES 42, Catamounts 20.
New Hampshire @ Georgia State: This has become the weekly easy win. Sad exit season for Bill Curry. WILDCATS 45, Panthers 13.
LAST WEEK: 8-3
Winners: Georgia, Clemson, South Carolina, Miami, Texas A&M, Texas, West Virginia, William & Mary
Losers: Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Samford, United States*
YEAR TO DATE: 41-14 (74.5)
2011 record: 115-51 (.693)
2010 record: 97-49 (.664)
* – Ryder Cup choke