Friday, August 29, 2008

Clemson vs Alabama, Preview, Prediction

Clemson vs Alabama
Atlanta, GA - Georgia Dome
Line: Clemson -4.5, -190, 48 total

Its finally here...Alabama vs Clemson in the first of what the Atlanta Sports Council hopes is an ongoing series of season openers pitting the ACC vs SEC. Clemson has high expectations coming into this season with many picking them to win the ACC (myself included). Alabama is entering its second season under Nick Saban and could play more than a handful of true freshmen from their highly ranked recruiting class signed this past February. This is a big game for the ACC and Clemson who need to show they can play on a national level. If one of the top teams in the ACC loses to a middle of the pack SEC team, then the ACC just slips further down the BCS totem poll.

Keys to the Game:
1. Experienced Offenses...Sort of
Both of these teams have significant strengths on offense, just in different spots. Alabama returns four starters on the offensive line including All-American LT Andre Smith. The Tide should be able to protect QB John Parker Wilson and open holes for RB Terry Grant. But neither Wilson or Grant has shown gambreaking ability consistently and the Alabama receivers are very young. Expect highly touted true freshman wideout Julio Jones to start for the Tide. Clemson is loaded at the skill positions. WR Aaron Kelle has a good shot at becoming the ACC's all time leading receiver this season and RBs James Davis and CJ Spiller are home run hitters. QB Cullen Harper is the best in the ACC. But the Tigers are inexperienced on the o-line. A problem they also had last year.

2. Can John Parker Wilson be a difference maker for Alabama?
Wilson may leave Alabama as its leading all time passer, but the senior has only showed a few times the ability to really lead the Tide to a big victory. His miscues late against LSU may have been the reason the Tide lost. Saban needs JPW to become a game breaker this year for the Tide to move up into the SEC Title race. Clemson would like to see the Wilson of Auburn, not the Wilson of Tennessee.

3. Inexperience at Linebacker
Both teams have issues at LB with litle depth returning from last year and a lot of new faces. Surrounding these LBs will be solid secondaries and d-lines for both sides. The linebacker group that can stuff the run and pressure the QB sucessfully will give their defense a big advantage in a game loaded with stars on offense.

With all the offensive talent on the field, the over looks like a safe bet right? Actually I think it is the opposite. Generally, the defense is ahead of the offense at this time of year and with all the talent and plays run in the Chick-Fil-A bowl last year (Auburn vs Clemson), the total was only 43 and that included OT. I think Clemson gets a 4th quarter score off a big play to take the lead and hold on in the final minutes.

Clemson 17 Alabama 13

Alabama Covers, Total - Under

Other Week 1 Predictions

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