2013 Opener: Georgia – Clemson August 31, 2013

Brief Historical Perspective
The Bulldogs and the Tigers waged their first gridiron battle in 1897. UGA and Clemson have played a total of 62 games against each other, with Georgia leading the series by an all-time count 41-17, with four ties.  At present, Georgia owns a five-game winning streak over Clemson. The two teams last met in 2003, when the Dawgs mauled the Tigers by a score of 30-0.

The Weight of Expectations
It is critical that Bulldog Nation does not still see UGA as being five yards away from a national championship.  It is always fun to dream big, but what happened in 2012 is largely independent of what is to come beginning this Saturday night. Conversely, Clemson carries the weight of being the highest ranked team in the Atlantic Coast Conference to start the season. The much maligned ACC will be roaring for the Tigers this weekend, just as the much ballyhooed SEC will be cheering for the Bulldogs.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney Has Much to Prove
Dabo Swinney has a history of getting very emotional following Clemson wins.  He has never won a BCS bowl game, but his Tigers did win the ACC Championship in 2011. The purveyor of Howard’s Rock parlayed that victory into one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of the BCS, falling to the West Virginia Mountaineers by a final score of 70-33.

The Georgia Bulldogs Must Prove Themselves, Too
The game against Clemson kicks off what will be an extremely challenging stretch for the Bulldogs. Three of UGA’s first four football games are against teams that are ranked in the top 15 according to the preseason polls. Georgia could probably absorb one loss and still accomplish all they set out to achieve  this season.  Even so, starting the new campaign with a defeat at the claws of the Tigers would let a lot of air out of a Bulldog Nation balloon that is pretty high on itself.
Picking a Winner
The defensive issues that both of these teams face have been well documented. When  looking for an edge in this contest, look no further than the conference that each team is representing.  The mighty Southeastern Conference has ruled college football by hoisting the Bowl Championship Series trophy for seven straight seasons.  Conversely, the Charlotte Observer notes that since the BCS was created in 1998, the Atlantic Coast Conference has one BCS Championship to their credit.

I’m going to channel my best Kirk Herbstreit and pick a winner based on what he might say, as a way of judging my own opinion versus the ESPN expert.  Unfortunately, Herbstreit probably will not pick the game because he likely has announcing duties on ABC.  As for Lee Corso, I think that guy started picking games based on which mascot head is more fun to put on years ago.

Georgia walks out of Death Valley a winner on the arm of Aaron Murray and the overall talent of the UGA offense.  The Bulldog defense will make enough stops to pull away from the Tigers in the fourth quarter.  Final Score: Georgia 45, Clemson 31.

College Football Outside of the South – ACC

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The ACC has not won many rings since coach Bowden retired.

The Atlantic Coast Conference Has Been Atrocious in BCS Games
The ACC has been one of my least favorite conferences to keep tabs on in recent years.  As a result, this post examining a portion of ACC football will center around the conference’s four most important games against the Southeastern Conference in 2013.

ACC Coaching Thoughts
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson may be a triple option guru, but when he loses he becomes an obnoxious oaf.  Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles have not won a big game since Bobby Bowden retired, Unless of course you are absurd enough to count the ‘Noles Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois at the end of last season.

I am looking forward to watching the ACC try to distance themselves from their own mediocrity in 2013. According to Mr. SEC the Atlantic Coast Conference holds a horrid record of 3-13 in BCS bowl games. Furthermore, if this is to be the year that the ACC reasserts itself as a power in college football, then there will be several roadblocks ahead.

Alabama-Virginia Tech
The Hokies are coming off an extremely disappointing year in which they finished 6-6 in the regular season, before defeating Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl to end the year with a winning record.  This year, Virginia Tech has the honor of playing the defending national champion, Alabama, to begin their campaign.

The Crimson Tide have been sitting atop college football for two consecutive years, and it is nearly impossible to believe that a fictional purple turkey is going to knock them off.  Luckily, college football is not played on paper. What a “Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game” it will be if the Tide forgets to roll in.

Georgia–Clemson
I will admit that my opinion on this game is totally biased.  With Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray coming back for his last chance at a championship, UGA has no intention of starting the season in an 0-1 hole.  There will be an offensive shootout in Death Valley, and Bulldog Nation will have the final bark.

Clemson may believe they will defeat Georgia, but history is not on their side.  mcubed, a sports history and statistics website, reports that the SEC went 6-2 against the ACC in 2012.

Georgia-Georgia Tech
Since Paul Johnson broke out his fish frier after his Yellow Jackets skewered the Dawgs for 45 points back in 2008, Georgia Tech has not been able to recapture that magic again.  Johnson was the ACC coach of the year for each of his first two seasons in Atlanta, but downright appalling defense has stung  Tech for a total of 19 losses in the past three seasons.

Georgia wiped the field with Georgia Tech in the final regular season game of 2012. The Bulldogs capitalized on a Georgia Tech fumble at the Georgia one-yard line to gain an early 14-0 lead and never looked back. It was a game that Tech head coach Paul Johnson called “a pretty good thumping.”  If the regular season pans out the way that Georgia fans are hoping for, a similar result should be expected in Atlanta this year.



South Carolina-Clemson
Steve Spurrier (thankfully) has had trouble winning the SEC East in the past two years. Consequently, the Ole’ Ball Coach has had to find solace in making life miserable for Clemson fans every year.  According to Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney, the Tigers are knocking on the door to greatness, but how can that be if Clemson is not even the best team in their own state?

Despite their advantage of 65-41 (with four ties) in the series rivalry, the Tigers have not beaten the Gamecocks since 2008. The heat between the two schools figures to be kicked up a notch this year, as South Carolina and Clemson are ranked 7th and 8th in the preseason polls respectively.

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47 Days Left Until Georgia Versus Clemson

College Football is Less Than Seven Weeks Away
The countdown to one of the most highly anticipated college football campaigns in recent memory is on. The Georgia Bulldogs will travel to South Carolina to square off with the Clemson Tigers in an ACC versus SEC showdown on August 31.  Anticipation for the season opener has grown since the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins feels his Tigers will “beat the mess” out of Georgia.sammy_watkins_clemson
The Trash Talk Will be Settled on the Field

I am not going to offer a rebuttal to what Sammy Watkins said. On the contrary, I love it.  As a result of this bulletin board material, Bulldog Nation will be chomping at the bit to get a paw on Watkins and company come the final night in August. Sammy Watkins may want to avoid going over the middle, though, as Georgia may try to knock the mess out of him.

Georgia-Clemson is Most Expensive Ticket on Opening Weekend
According to Tiger Net, the clash between the Dawgs and the Tigers is currently the highest priced ticket of any game on the opening weekend of the 2013 college football season. While it is a non-conference game, it is still a pivotal match-up for two teams that both have championship aspirations.

Listening to Dabo Swinney Overreact is the Worst Part of Clemson Victories
My co-author Barrie constantly reminds me that I need to be emotionally prepared for the fact that Georgia could start the season 0-1.  I accept the fact that Clemson is capable of beating Georgia, but I loathe the idea of hearing the Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney crow after the fact. This is a man that cried after Clemson beat Auburn in 2011. What is he going to do if the Tigers defeat the Bulldogs? Week one of college football cannot get here soon enough.

Is his Name Really Dabo?

For those wondering, thank goodness coach Swinney’s name is not actually “Dabo.”  His birth name is William Christopher Swinney.  During the video below, the Clemson head  coach says the Tigers are a national championship team after they won the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.  Here’s hoping the Georgia Bulldogs give “Dabo” a reality check in Death Valley.