The fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs begin their 2021 season with a heavyweight clash against another top-flight program. Georgia is teed up to face the ACC’s Clemson Tigers in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Saturday night. Ranked third to start the season, Clemson is once again projected to win the ACC this season. Georgia is the SEC East favorite and will likely give the West Division winner a hearty fight in Atlanta come December. By season’s end, this clash will probably have major implications, as both teams will be fighting for spots in the College Football Playoff.
How to watch Georgia vs. Clemson
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch Online: ESPN App
Key Players to Watch
J.T. Daniels: The Georgia quarterback entered late last year, but made a tangible impact on the Dawgs. With a full offseason under his belt now, Daniels is set to be a difference-maker. In an SEC where the quarterback quality has taken a bit of a decline, having someone like Daniels may be a big benefactor for Georgia. He will face a Clemson defense that allowed just 214.2 passing yards per game. Additionally, he’ll stare at six players who made it onto the Preseason All-ACC team. It’s no stretch to suggest this could be the toughest defense Georgia faces all year long.
Bryan Bresee: One of the aforementioned six defensive stars on the Preseason All-ACC team is Bryan Bresee. The Tiger lineman finished third in the Preseason POY poll behind North Carolina Tar Heels QB Sam Howell and Miami Hurricanes QB D’Eriq King. Elite company to say the least. Just 19 years old, Bresee is getting acclaim everywhere after making 10 starts as a true freshman. He earned first-team All-ACC honors a year ago and was named the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. You’ll want to keep your eye on the Clemson defensive tackle, as he faces an interior line that may well feature two redshirt freshmen in Sedrick Van-Pran and Tate Rutledge.
Clemson Offensive Line vs. Georgia Defensive Line
This game is likely gonna be won in the trenches, and this matchup to me is the biggest of the game. Georgia has an absolutely stacked defensive line heading into the season. Preseason first-team All-SEC lineman Jordan Davis headlines the group, and there’s plenty more too. Devonte Wyatt, Travon Walker, and Jalen Carter are three of a group that might be the best in the conference.
They’ll play up against a group for Clemson that has some great talent. Tackle Jordan McFadden highlights the group, and he’s joined by fellow junior Will Putnam and senior Matt Bockhorst. But this will be as nasty a defensive line that Clemson will face this year. Their ability to keep D.J. Uiagalelei clean is likely going to be what determines the outcome of this ballgame.
D.J. Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson
Since Georgia has the edge in experience at QB, it feels only right that D.J. Uiagalelei is the X-Factor in this one.
Uiagalelei memorably stepped in for Trevor Lawrence in last year’s tussle in South Bend with Notre Dame. He had an extraordinary performance against a Notre Dame defense that was otherwise really hard to stifle (unless you’re an elite team) last year. So, he’s certainly had his fair share of the spotlight and in tough games on primetime.
This will be a much different beast in many ways though. D.J. has a full spring and summer of camp as the lead guy. Georgia, meanwhile, has had many months to prepare for him and may well be ready for whatever he throws at him. Clemson will require a big-time performance out of the youngster at a neutral site if they want to come away with a win.
(From DraftKings Sportsbook)
Spread: Clemson -3 | Georgia +3
Moneyline: Clemson -155 | Georgia +135
Both of these teams have elite talent on both sides of the ball. It’s one of the more evenly-matched matchups you’ll see this year and figures to be one of the best games all season.
Georgia is rife with experience at quarterback and plenty on defense too. Where they are hurting though is at receiver, and that’s an area where Clemson has them beat pretty handily. Daniels has plenty of mileage, but he will be throwing to a cast that, past Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson, and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, is filled with redshirt and true freshmen who may be asked of a lot.
If Uiagalelei is as advertised and if this game becomes a passing battle, I will lean on Clemson because Justyn Ross will be by far the best offensive player on the field on either side. But if the Georgia defense strikes some fear in him, this could be a close one that the Dawgs could clip the Tigers on.
Given the fact that, while the sample was small, what we’ve seen from Uiagalalei was pretty damn good, I think the first scenario is all the more likely. So with that said, I think Clemson edges Georgia 27-24. That score seems pretty likely either way (I don’t see this game being a slugfest at all) so I wouldn’t be against an OVER 50.5 play.