Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#139 Georgia Tech vs.
#140 Clemson
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 3:30pm EDT
Written by Jordy

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets face an uphill battle on the road on Saturday afternoon against the Clemson Tigers. After getting shut down by Georgia, the Tigers came out roaring in a 49-3 bounce-back win over South Carolina State last week. The Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, knocked off Kennesaw State after coming up short against Northern Illinois. We’ll see if they can muster enough firepower to put a dent in Clemson’s elite defense.

No more Trevor Lawrence problems

The good news for Georgia Tech is Trevor Lawrence is no longer the quarterback for a Clemson team that hung 73 points on them last season. It was the beatdown the likes of which you’d normally only see in an EA Sports video game.

But the man with an arm as golden as his hair has taken his talents to the NFL, leaving the Tigers to struggle picking up the pieces with D.J. Uiagalelei as a rocky replacement. Clemson’s sophomore quarterback is only completing 54.1 percent of his passes with only one passing touchdown and two interceptions.

So the Yellow Jackets have to be feeling more confident about their chances in this game.

If they can hold off the ground game and force Uiagalelei to throw in tight windows, they’ll present opportunities for themselves to put the ball in quarterback Jordan Yates’ hands on a shortened field. Their offense will need all of the help they can get against the monstrosity that is Clemson’s defense.

The Tigers haven’t allowed more than 10 points this season, and opposing teams are only averaging 245.5 total yards per game. If Georgia can’t run the ball effectively, which is a likely scenario in this game, Yates is going to have to open things up with his arm. Granted, he’s already throwing for 389 passing yards and five touchdowns through his first two games, but neither one of those performances came against a defense even near this level of dominant.

Tigers need more from Uiagalelei

The Tigers don’t need D.J. Uiagalelei to be the second coming of Trevor Lawrence, but they do need him to produce better passing numbers. It’s still early in the season, and he’s clearly still settling into his new role as the starting quarterback. So it isn’t time to press the panic button just yet.

But he needs to show something against Georgia Tech’s defense.

It’s weird seeing the Tigers sitting in eighth place in passing offense in the ACC with only an average 220 yards per game. Georgia Tech currently has the No. 1-ranked passing defense, but they haven’t faced anywhere near the level of opposition they’ll run into on Saturday.

It would help if Clemson was able to get some form of a running game going to take some of the pressure off Uiagalelei, but they’re sitting dead last in the conference in average rushing yards per game (122). They’re also one of the worst teams in sacks allowed.

This game should be all about the Tigers defense taking the game over. If the Yellow Jackets can’t score, they won’t be able to compete. The defensive line was overpowering against Georgia’s offensive front, and they have yet to yield a single touchdown pass on the backend. Georgia Tech isn’t built to win in the trenches against this defensive juggernaut.

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Clemson’s offensive stats are a bit skewed after that ugly Week 1 run-in with Georgia. Make no mistake, Georgia Tech’s defense is nothing like the brick wall the Tigers tried to run through against the Bulldogs in the opener.

D.J. Uiagalelei is due a breakout performance at some point, and it could come against the Yellow Jackets’ secondary on Saturday. It’s an untested group that finished second-worst in the ACC against the pass last season with opposing quarterbacks averaging 270.1 passing yards per game against them. I’m not about to sing their praises for shutting things down against Northern Illinois and Kennesaw State.

The Tigers also have the ability to continue to pound the ball on the ground like they did against South Carolina State. I’m expecting to see more performances similar to that one with the team moving away from a powerhouse contender like Georgia and running through more of a cupcake ACC schedule.

The biggest problem for Georgia Tech will be Clemson’s defense. Sure, Jordan Yates managed to throw five touchdowns to kick-start the season, but he’ll have to make plays inside of a phone booth to get anything downfield against Clemson’s defense. They are shutting any and everything down with opponents averaging 133.5 yards through the air against them. For a team that could fall behind early, this is setting up to be a lopsided affair at Memorial Stadium.

I’m laying the points and rolling with Clemson.

Prediction: Clemson Tigers (-28)

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The Clemson Tigers finally flexed their offensive muscles in a 49-3 showing against an overmatched South Carolina State team last week. I’m expecting them to open things up more in the passing department against Georgia Tech’s unproven defensive secondary. It’s a unit that clearly struggled all of last season, and that’s where things will pick back up in their first meeting with a ranked opponent. This game will get out of hand early with the Yellow Jackets struggling to play catch-up against a dominant Clemson defense. It’s time for D.J. Uiagalelei to break out as a passer, or it’s time for coach Dabo Swinney to start asking the hard questions. Give me the over on Saturday.

Prediction: Over (52)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.