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What: No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
When: Saturday, 8:22 p.m.
TV/Radio: ABC (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)/Georgia Football Radio Network (WSB-Atlanta)
SATURDAY NIGHT'S GAME
Saturday night's game is a history maker for the Bulldogs as it marks the first time that a top-10 ranked Georgia squad has opened against a team also ranked among the top 10 teams in the country. Both the Bulldogs and Tigers come into play being mentioned as possible contenders for the national championship, despite the fact that both squads have some holes to fill on the defensive side. The game also marks Georgia's first trip to Clemson since 2003, a contest won by the Bulldogs 30-0.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: QB Aaron Murray, RB Todd Gurley, RB Keith Marshall, WR Arthur Lynch, WR Malcolm Mitchell, WR Michael Bennett.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: LB Jordan Jenkins, LB Amarlo Herrera, DL Garrison Smith, CB Damian Swann.
1. Georgia LT Kenarious Gates vs Clemson DE Vic Beasley
2. Georgia running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall vs. Clemson linebackers Stephone Anthony, Quandon Christian and Spencer Shuey
3. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray vs Clemson cornerbacks Garry Peters and Darius Robinson.
For Georgia, head coach Mark Richt said earlier this week that he expects to be without backup safety Corey Moore (right hamstring strain) along with wide receiver Jonathon Rumph (hamstring). The Bulldog also may or may not be without kicker Marshall Morgan. Morgan was arrested earlier this summer for boating under the influence, but Richt has not announced whether or not he will play against the Tigers.
"We've got to be balanced in what we do. We have confidence that we can run the ball as well as we can throw it and vice versa. When I say balance, I use it in terms of not necessarily 50-50 passes to run, but balance to me is the ability to take advantage of a team that's trying to double-cover receivers and run the ball well enough to get them out of that or vice versa. If people are going to pack the box and stop the run, can we throw well enough or are we that balanced enough to take advantage of throwing the ball? I think we are that type of an offensive team." - Mark Richt
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
LT Kenarious Gates (6-5, 327)
LG Dallas Lee (6-4, 295)
C David Andrews (6-2, 295)
RG Chris Burnette (6-2, 314)
RT John Theus (6-6, 298)
QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 208)
RB Todd Gurley (6-1, 232)
FB Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 257)
TE Arthur Lynch (6-5, 254)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 190)
WR Michael Bennett (6-3, 205)
LE Garrison Smith (6-3, 299)
N Mike Thornton (6-1, 290
RE Sterling Bailey (6-3, 282)
SAM James DeLoach (6-3, 265)
WILL Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 246)
MIKE Ramik Wilson (6-2, 232)
MOE Amarlo Herrera (6-2, 244)
CB Brendan Langley (6-1, 181)
CB Damian Swann (5-11, 178)
SS Connor Norman (5-10, 210)
FS Tray Matthews (6-0,196)
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: QB Tajh Boyd, RB Roderick McDowell, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Martavias Bryant.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: DE Vic Beasley, DT Grady Jarrett, LB Spencer Shuey, LB Stephone Anthony, CB Garry Peters.
1. Georgia CBs Damian Swann, Brendan Langley and Sheldon Dawson vs. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake and Martavias Bryant.
2. Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins vs Clemson left tackle Brandon Thomas
3. Georgia nose Mike Thornton and Chris Mayes vs Clemson center Ryan Norton, guard David Beasley and guard Tyler Shatley
"It's not fancy or rocket science. They're either going to win or we're going to win. They do a great job of getting to the second level and cutting you off. Lot of pressure on those guys. Our interior defensive linemen have to create a new line of scrimmage and gobble things up. Aaron is so capable inside and outside of the pocket. When you blitz him, he's probably as good as there is in the country. You have to get pressure with your front four. It comes down to matchups." - Clemson coach Dabo Swinney
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
LT Brandon Thomas (6-3, 315)
LG David Beasley (6-4, 320)
C Ryan Norton (6-3, 280)
RG Tyler Shatley (6-3, 300)
RT Gifford Timothy (6-6, 315)
QB Tajh Boyd (6-1, 225)
RB Roderick McDowell (5-10, 200)
TE Darrell Smith (6-1, 240)
WR Sammy Watkins (6-1, 205)
WR Charone Peake (6-2, 205)
WR Martavis Bryant (6-5, 200)
DE Corey Crawford (6-5, 270)
DT Grady Jarrett (6-1, 295)
DT Josh Watson (6-4, 290)
DE Vic Beasley (6-2, 235)
SLB Quandon Christian (6-2, 230)
MLB Stephone Anthony (6-2, 245)
WLB Spencer Shuey (6-3, 240)
CB Garry Peters (6-0, 185)
CB Darius Robinson (5-10, 175)
S Travis Blanks (6-0, 200)
S Robert Smith (5-11, 210)
Clemson will be without freshman running back Tyshon Dye (back), cornerback Mackensie Alexander (groin), offensive lineman Joe Gore (knee), defensive tackle Sam Pagano (ankle) and tight end Sam Cooper (knee). Two other players are listed as questionable and not expected to play - tight end Jordan Leggett (knee) and defensive back Jayron Kearse (shoulder).
One has to figure that ESPN/ABC couldn't be happier with this matchup pitting the 5th-ranked Bulldogs of Georgia and No. 8 Clemson. Not only does the game feature two of the nation's premiere quarterbacks in Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd, but in running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, you'll have to go a ways to find a backfield better than what Georgia will trot out onto the field. Among the other storylines, can Georgia's young defense find a way to limit Boyd, or will the Tiger senior have the proverbial field day? This also marks the first time that both Georgia and its opponent are ranked in the Top 10.
Quarterback - Even
Running Back - Huge edge to UGA
Wide Receiver - Slight edge to Clemson
Offensive Line - Slight edge to UGA
Tight end - Huge edge to UGA
Defensive Line - Edge to Clemson
Linebacker - Edge to Clemson
Secondary - Even
Special Teams - Edge to Clemson
OK, call me an SEC snob. Yes, I know Clemson beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last year, albeit by one point. Kudo's to the Orange Tigers for that. It was a huge win for their program, and a victory that no doubt gives Clemson players plenty of confidence heading into Saturday night's game against the Bulldogs. Yes, it should be an outstanding game. Both teams have outstanding quarterbacks, quite likely two of the best in the nation. Both teams have questions on defense, especially in the secondary. Both teams have experienced and capable offensive lines. But here's the lime in the Corona. Georgia has two big advantages that Clemson does not - Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Tiger running back Roderick McDowell may well have a fine year, but he does not compare to what will be lining up behind Murray in the Bulldog backfield. Gurley may not have had anything to say in his little interview on Wednesday, but he and Marshall will have plenty to say Saturday night. There's your difference in the ball game, folks. Prediction - Georgia 42, Clemson 27
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