NCAA Football Las Vegas Odds and Picks: Clemson vs Auburn
Saturday, September 01, 2012
by Frank Martin
A budding rivalry marked by wild comebacks will be renewed when No. 25 Auburn Tigers takes on No. 14 Clemson Tigers in a Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome. Clemson nearly derailed Auburn's national championship season in 2010, jumping out to a 17-0 lead before Cam Newton and Auburn rallied at home to win 27-24 in overtime.
Clemson returned the favor last season, rebounding from a 21-7 deficit for a 38-24 home win. Auburn leads the all-time series 34-12-2 and had won 14 straight before Clemson's win last year.
Auburn has new offensive and defensive coordinators, with Scot Loeffler taking over the offense from Gus Malzahn and Brian Van Gorder replacing Ted Roof at the helm of the defense. Clemson also boasts a new defensive coordinator, having lured Brent Venables away from Oklahoma after 13 seasons with the Sooners.
The Tigers hope Venables can lead the same dramatic turnaround offensive coordinator Chad Morris sparked for his unit last year, when Clemson averaged 33.6 points and 440.8 total yards. Clemson is one of three teams in the nation to return a 3,000-yard passer - Tajh Boyd, 1,000-yard receiver - Sammy Watkins and 1,000-yard rusher - Andre Ellington.
Watkins won't suit up for the opener, though, as he serves a two-game suspension stemming from his arrest in the offseason. Auburn also will be shorthanded for disciplinary reasons, as sophomore center Reese Dismukes has been suspended indefinitely after his arrest for public intoxication.
Clemson Tigers (2011: 10-4, 6-2 ACC): The Tigers boast their highest preseason ranking since 2008, when they started the season ranked ninth but finished out of the rankings after a disappointing 7-6 campaign. The defending ACC champions have reason for optimism, especially on the offensive side of the ball, as they return a dynamic trio in QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington and WR Sammy Watkins.
Auburn Tigers (2011: 8-5, 4-4 SEC): The Tigers have turned over the offense to sophomore QB Kiehl Frazier, who appeared in 13 games a year ago and rushed for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Frazier has options at his disposal, including senior RB Onterio McCalebb (985 total yards in 2011), senior WR Emory Blake (36 catches, 613 yards, 5 TDs) and senior TE Philip Lutzenkirchen (24 catches, 238 yards, 7 TDs), but he will need to establish himself as a more effective passer for the Tigers to be successful.
1. Auburn has won 74 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points, dating to a 56-49 four-overtime loss to Georgia in 1996.
2. Auburn is 5-2 all-time in the Georgia Dome and has won its last four games there, including SEC championship games in 2004 and 2010. Clemson is 2-5 all-time in the Georgia Dome, including an 0-2 mark against Auburn.
3. Clemson has won 21 of its last 27 season openers and seven of its last 10. The Tigers' three opening losses in the past decade have come against top-25 teams. Auburn has won its last six openers and is 92-25-2 all-time in opening games.
NCAA Football Prediction: Clemson 31, Auburn 27.