Texas A&M vs. Clemson fearless prediction and game preview.
Texas A&M vs. Clemson Broadcast
Date: Saturday, September 7
Game Time: 3:30 ET
Venue: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Texas A&M (1-0) vs. Clemson (1-0) Game Preview
It got lost in the fog of the season, but it was one of the best games of 2018.
Down 21-6, Texas A&M roared back in the second half to get in a position to tie it up with a two-point conversion in the final seconds, and just missed. Clemson overcame the 28-26 battle, survived Syracuse, and went on to roll to its second national title in three years.
But it was also the moment when A&M fans could see what was coming under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
This time around the game is in Clemson, and this time around, it’s the dominant No. 1 team in the country with the swagger, talent, and resumé to be expected to not only win, but roll in dominant fashion.
With only some due respect to the rest of the ACC, this is it for Clemson. Next week’s date at Syracuse is the only game left on the schedule against a currently ranked team, but this is the one that’s going to make the most noise.
Texas A&M is the one team that on the schedule with the talent across the board to push the powerhouse.
If Clemson wins this in a blowout – it has won its last 11 games by 20 points or more – then forget about the rest of the regular season and put it in the College Football Playoff.
But if the Aggies can pull this off, there’s a solid chance they can roll through the schedule – including the Auburn game – to make the showdown against Alabama in mid-October a 1 vs. 2 showdown. More than that, it would be the moment when the program goes from very good to a true national title contender.
Why Texas A&M Will Win
The Aggies have the talent, the coaching, the swagger, and the make-up to pull this off.
How do you beat Clemson? The athletes have to be there across the board to handle the blinding team speed – A&M has that.
You need a veteran quarterback who won’t be overcome by the moment – Kellen Mond threw for 430 yards and three scores in last season’s game.
You need a special head coach and staff that have seen it all – former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher certainly knows Clemson.
You need the defensive front to be able to hold up against the chronically underappreciated Tiger offensive front. A&M might have a slew of new parts up front, but the talent and depth are there.
You need a pass rush, and you need a secondary with the size and toughness to hold up against Clemson’s NFL receiving corps. The Aggies have a 6-2, 196-pound corner on one side in Charles Oliver and a 6-4, 185-pound junior in Myles Jones on the other . Everyone in the Aggie secondary is 6-1 or taller.
You need the big, physical receiving weapons who can hold their own. 6-4, 204-pound Kendrick Rogers caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s game, 6-2, 200-pound Quartney Davis caught six passes in last week’s win over Texas State, and 6-2, 218-pound Jhamon Austin caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.
But even if you have all of that …
Why Clemson Will Win
You don’t have Trevor Lawrence, you don’t have Travis Etienne, you don’t have Tee Higgins …
You don’t have several parts of the puzzle that destroyed Alabama eight months ago, and that includes Lawrence, who was the backup in last year’s game – hitting 5-of-9 passes for 93 yards and a score – behind Kelly Bryant.
The Tigers started out the season by putting on a fun show against Georgia Tech, with Etienne – who was held in check by A&M with 44 yards and a score on just eight carries – ripping off 205 yards and three scores. He wasn’t able to do much on the outside – and he won’t be able to against the Aggies – but the interior of the Clemson offensive front destroyed the Yellow Jackets.
Give Etienne a sliver of daylight on the inside, and he’s gone. Do the Aggies have the linebackers to handle what’s coming at the second level? That’s still a bit of a question mark, with Buddy Johnson still getting his feet wet in the middle, and two sophomores in Anthony Hines and Ikenna Okeke on the outside. They can all move, but dealing with Clemson is a wee bit different than shutting down Texas State.
There’s also the question of whether or not the pass rush will be steady enough to get to Lawrence. The A&M defensive front is good, and it came up with three sacks against TXST last week, but there wasn’t enough pressure on the Clemson quarterbacks in last year’s game – now there’s even more explosion on the Tiger offense. Lawrence is coming off a mediocre performance against Georgia Tech, but that was just a tune-up.
What’s Going To Happen
It’s been the call the entire offseason – this is no time to buckle after suffering through the wounds from the slings and arrows that came with the prediction.
If anyone on the Clemson schedule has the athleticism and talent to take down the defending national champ, it’s this Texas A&M team.
That doesn’t mean NC State can’t pitch a gem at home in early November, and maybe a hydrated Florida State can provide a push, but this is it. Barring a major injury or three, if Clemson is going to take a hit, it’s this week, or it’s not happening this regular season.
The Texas A&M offensive line that was just fine against Texas State has to prove that it can keep this terrific young Clemson defensive front out of the backfield, and the Aggies have to be prepared to weather a few big home runs and not let the Tiger offense get on a run.
But it’s all about Mond.
A&M won’t be able to run the ball a lick, so it’s up to the junior quarterback to come through for a second straight monster performance against the Tigers.
So here’s the caveat. If Mond doesn’t make a slew of big mistakes and he makes the plays down the field he pulled off in last year’s game, A&M can do this. If he’s anything less than brilliant, then … nope.
If the Aggies lose the turnover battle – it was -2 in last year’s game – and don’t dominate in time of possession – it had the ball for almost 34 minutes, then … nope.
Clemson will be one of the top two seeds in the College Football Playoff, and it’ll rip through the rest of its schedule, but …
Helped by owning the field position battle – get ready for a huge game from Aggie P Braden Mann – Texas A&M will pull off the stunner. Or, at least, it keeps it close enough for people who care about those things to be happy. And if neither one of those things happens, then simply marvel that this Clemson team is just that special.
Texas A&M vs. Clemson Prediction, Line
Texas A&M 31, Clemson 30
Line: Clemson -17.5, o/u: 64.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 4
Must See Rating: 5
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