Welcome to the almost game-of-the-week.
Two weeks ago, Georgia Tech and Clemson looked like the center of attention. Both teams were 6-0. Each seemed to have a pretty good chance to stay unbeaten for two more games. But while Clemson beat Maryland and North Carolina to run its record to 8-0 and climb to No. 6 in the rankings, the Jackets dropped consecutive road games to Virginia and Miami (falling to 6-2 and from 12th to unranked).
The biggest difference in the teams: offense. Clemson has rolled up 115 points (12 offensive touchdowns) in its last two games, Tech only 28 points (three offensive TDs).
The Jackets’ offense actually has produced only three touchdowns in the last 10 quarters. This isn’t just a matter of the team playing tougher opponents than during its 6-0 start. Quarterback Tevin Washington appears to have lost his confidence, right down to making decisions and executing a pitch in the option offense.
But if Tech can get better quarterback play from Washington and/or backup Synjyn Days, it can pull off an upset tonight. A few reasons why:
• The Jackets’ offensive strength (No. 1 in ACC, No. 5 in nation in rushing) is Clemson’s defensive weakness (No. 9 in ACC, No. 76 in nation in stopping the run). So Tech has the potential to keep Clemson’s potent offense on the sideline.
• Tigers running back Andre Ellington has an ankle injury. He won’t start, and there’s a chance he won’t play.
• Come 0n — it’s Clemson! The Tigers have a tendency to lose a game they’re not supposed to, and they almost did at Maryland. Besides, a team that has allowed 45 and 38 points in consecutive weeks is playing with fire.
That’s it for now. I’ll be blogging live from kickoff, at least until I have to duck out for the game column. What are you thoughts about an upset?
By Jeff Schultz