Clemson and Georgia Tech Showdown In Labor Day ACC Season Opener

10-3, including a 20-13 victory in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Florida, is a season for which most teams would sign up. However, the #4 Clemson Tigers aren’t any team, and they’re looking to improve from last season. Clemson has been in every College Football Playoff except in 2014 and last year, which includes two national championships. They’ve also won six straight ACC titles until last year, so 10-3 is a letdown compared to their usual standards. 

Georgia Tech leads the series 51-34-2, but Clemson has won the last seven, including last year’s game, 14-8. Dabo Swinney enters his 14th season (all at Clemson) as head coach with a 150-36 record.

The first step starts tonight in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff ACC match up when they face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 8 PM EST on ESPN. DJ Uiagalelei returns as the starting QB for the Tigers after an uneven season that was hampered by injuries. He still threw for 2,246 yards and nine TDS.

Returning on offense for the Tigers are also a pair of running backs, Will Shipley (149 carries, 747 yards, and 11 TDs) and Kobe Pace (104 carries, 648 yards, and 6 TDs). While Uiagalelei won’t have Justyn Ross to throw to this year, Joseph Ngata (23 receptions, 438 yards, and one TD), and Beaux Collins (31 receptions, 407 yards, and three TDs) return. 

On defense, the Tigers look to improve, allowing 26.3 points a game. 

For the Yellow Jackets, they are looking to turn around entirely from a 3-9 season. Head Coach Geoff Collins enters his fourth season with Georgia Tech 9-25 (24-35 overall).  They have Jeff Sims returning at QB. As a freshman, Sims threw for 12 TDs and 1,468 yards. 

The Yellow Jackets will have to replace most of the production from the running game a season ago as Jahmyr Gibbs is now with the Crimson Tide and Jordan Mason is on the 49’ers. Hassan Hall, Dontae Smith, and Dylan McDuffie will all get a chance this year. 

For the Yellow Jackets on defense, their line averages 6-4, 267 LBS, while Clemson’s offensive line averages 6-5, 317 LBS. That could be a factor in tonight’s game. 

Written by Garin Turner

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