Line: GT -3
Once again, these teams appear to be evenly matched. In the last 16 games played between the two, both have won 8 and 12 of the 16 have been decided by five points or less.
Clemson is the better offensive team relying on the aerial attack mostly. Senior and four year starter Charlie Whitehurst orchestrates a shotgun attack utilizing four receivers in most of the formations. The primary receivers catching Whitehurst's passes are Chansi Stuckey, Aaron Kelly, and Curtis Baham. Each receiver brings a different dimension to the game—Stuckey (quick, runs a lot of underneath routes) Kelly (tall, home run hitter), and Baham (possession). Tailback Reggie Merriweather is a very serviceable option when the Tigers like to run. Merriweather racked up 90 yards against Tech last year.
Conversely, Georgia Tech would prefer to control the game on the ground. Running backs P.J. Daniels and Tashard Choice are a great 1-2 punch providing power and speed. By now, everyone has heard of Calvin Johnson. The 6-4 receiver torched Clemson last year in his coming out party with three touchdown catches. He is QB Reggie Ball's favorite target and you will see why on Saturday. The task of covering Johnson goes to 5-10 cornerback Tye Hill, who said last year's game was a nightmare. If Hill cannot cover Johnson, expect 6'3" cornerback Sergio Gilliam to switch in coverage
Defensively, Tech looks to have the advantage with its ball-hawking, run stuffing defense. The Yellow Jackets are allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground and are second nationally in interceptions with 14. Georgia Tech will have to battle some injuries to key players along the defensive line as DT Joe Anoai and DE Eric Henderson may not play. An area of concern for Tech fans is the secondary, particularly cornerback, where the Jackets have been hurt this season by poor tackling and poor coverage at times
The Tigers have done well in the turnover area themselves with a +1.14 margin this season. Clemson ranks 36 th nationally in total defense, surrendering 341 yards of offense per game. The Tigers employ a seven man front and use a variety of blitzes from the secondary as well.
Special Teams should be an advantage for Clemson in this game. Georgia Tech kicker Travis Bell has not made a field goal since the UCONN game back on September 17. Meanwhile, Clemson kicker Jad Dean is one of the best in the nation. His five field goals helped beat Texas A&M in the first game of the year.
This game will come down to the wire like it always does. The two team's statistics match up almost identical. However, this game will be determined by the play of Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball. Ball has 30 starts in a Tech uniform and in 17 wins has thrown 28 TD to 14 INT; in 13 losses he has manages just 4 TD while throwing 22 INT.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 24 Clemson 23
Other ACC Games
Duke vs Wake Forest 12:00 ET JP
Miami vs UNC 12:00 ET ESPN2
FSU vs Maryland 3:30 ET ABC