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Free Pick: Georgia vs. Clemson at Charlotte 9/4/21
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Georgia vs. Clemson at Charlotte 9/4/21

This is probably the biggest marquee game of the opening weekend and that’s saying something because there are a bunch of other good ones. Both of these teams are powerhouse programs and are highly ranked in all the polls. There is very little to choose from when looking at the position groups either. Let’s get to it.

Quarterback: We all know that Clemson lost a great one when Trevor Lawrence left as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. That is a big loss of course. However, they have former five-star D.J. Uiagalelei waiting in the wings, who in a cameo appearance last year when Lawrence tested positive for COVID, merely threw for over 400 yards against Notre Dame at South Bend as a true freshman. That’s pretty impressive. Georgia will counter with JT Daniels who emerged as the starter during the season and the offense began to click. Advantage: Clemson

Running Backs: A lot of people are overlooking the fact that Clemson lost a first-round running back in Travis Etienne. I’m sure there is talent but it is untested at this spot. Meanwhile, Georgia returns everybody from last year led by Zamir White and James Cook. Advantage: Georgia

Receivers: The Bulldogs suffered a blow in the spring when George Pickens went down with a torn ACL. But, by the end of the preseason practices they were confident they had nothing to worry about. Clemson lost their top two receivers from a year ago but get first-round NFL talent Justyn Ross back from an injury that caused him to miss all of 2020. Advantage: Neither

Offensive Line: Both team returns 3 starters on the offensive line and there is always talent at these two schools. Advantage: Neither

Defensive Line: Clemson returns everybody upfront including Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee. There is also plenty of depth. The defensive front at Georgia is well stocked also as it always is. Advantage: Neither

Linebackers: Georgia is well-stocked at linebacker with Nakobe Dean and Adam Anderson. The Tigers will counter with their two experienced seniors, James Skalski and Baylon Spector. Advantage: Neither

Secondary: Clemson returns all four starters to a secondary that gave up too many big plays in 2020. But they are a year older and are being counted on to be more consistent. On the other hand, Georgia lost three quality cornerbacks to the NFL and through the transfer portal and have some concerns with this position group. Advantage: Clemson

Coaching: There is really very little difference between these two coaching staffs as they are very, very good. There is one big difference and that is Clemson have won a couple of championships under Dabo Swinney while Kirby Smart is still knocking on the door. That’s is an unfair comparison for Smart because he has to negotiate a much tougher regular season in the SEC than Dabo does in the ACC. I would take either one of them in a heartbeat. Advantage: Clemson

Obviously, there isn’t much to choose from between these two teams. They are equal in so many ways and when that is the case, turnovers, penalties, and lucky bounces usually will be the factors in deciding the outcome. I think the Clemson quarterback is a little more dynamic and is capable of making more plays than Daniels, but he is still young and inexperienced. The line is Clemson -3 and I think that is fair. However, I could see it being Georgia -3 just as well. This feels like a playoff game in the season opener and I’m looking forward to watching it..

Our Pick: Clemson -3 But, we are red-flagging it which means I’m placing a small bet just to have some action with confidence level 3 out of 10.

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