Georgia Tech will take on Clemson at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ABC.
Will the defense continue to progress? During its three-game winning streak, Tech’s defense is allowing eight fewer points and 48 fewer yards than during the season’s first four games. Continuing that trend against a talented and athletic Clemson squad will be a challenge. However, the Tigers’ passing game hasn’t established a deep threat this season, putting more pressure on quarterback Kyle Parker and running back Andre Ellington to make plays happen.
Will the receivers catch passes? Though the stats didn’t show it, Joshua Nesbitt had one of his most accurate days passing in last week’s win against Middle Tennessee State. The problem was dropped passes, an issue forTech’s wide receivers and A-backs throughout the season. Coach Paul Johnson noted that the Yellow Jackets won’t get as many chances to make big plays against the better teams. They must take advantage.
How fired up will Clemson be? Considering the Yellow Jackets have beaten them four consecutive times, including in last season’s ACC championship game, there’s a chance the Tigers will be able to fly, rather than run, down the hill after touching Howard’s Rock. Clemson’s defensive players admitted that they spent a week in August working on GeorgiaTech’s offense. The Tigers’ Andre Branch said the team hasn’t forgotten that title loss. “We’ve got a little chip on our shoulder about that,” he toldTigerIllustrated.com.
A Tech win would …
• Ensure that it is bowl eligible for the 14th consecutive season.
• Be its sixth consecutive road win in the ACC. It hasn’t lost on the road to an Atlantic Division team since 2007.
A Clemson win would …
• Snap a four-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets.
• Keep alive its faint hopes of winning the Atlantic Division and returning to the ACC championship game. The Tigers are 1-2 in the conference and trail three teams, including Florida State, which is 4-0.
Keep an eye on …
For Tech: Nesbitt. He needs 44 rushing yards to become the ACC’s all-time leading rushing quarterback, passing former Clemson great Woodrow Dantzler (2,781). Nesbitt is averaging 92.7 yards per game this season.
For Clemson: Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers. He leads the ACC with nine sacks. He also has 15 ½ tackles for loss. Oh, he also has 10 quarterback pressures. Tech’s offensive line has had issues in the past (as have most offenses) dealing with NFL-caliber defensive ends. Remember how disruptive Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn was in last season’s Orange Bowl? He had two sacks and nine tackles.
The numbers game
Wins for Georgia Tech in its past 13 games that were decided by five points or less. Within that total are three wins posted against the Tigers in the past two seasons.
Last meeting: Tech defeated Clemson 39-34 in last season’s ACC championship game.
Series record: Tech leads the series 49-24-2.
The bottom line
Has Tech truly improved in the past three games, or have the better results been because the opponents haven’t been as good? Or has it been a little bit of both? We’ll find out on Saturday. The Tigers may be the most talented team in the ACC, according to Johnson. They are going to need theirplaymakers on offense and defense to step up. If they do, the Yellow Jackets should be able to leave with another win against the Tigers.