How to Watch and Stream
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Clemson opened as 13.5-point faves. The line has trimmed down to 11.5/12, depending on where you look.
Total: The O/U is set at 52.5/53, depending on where you look.
Coming into this week, both the Clemson Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies dominated their respective opponents. Now, the Tigers head into College Station, as the Aggies hope to knock off the vaunted reigning ACC champions.
Texas A&M has a lot to do up front against an elite Clemson defense. Tiger tackles Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant are nightmares for offensive linemen, and Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence are terrors on the end. With years of experience under their belts, they can easily prey on inexperienced O-Linemen.
According to S&P+, Clemson’s defense in 2017 was 7th in Rushing Defense and tops in Adjusted Sack Rating. That is scary, especially because Trayveon Williams is a key factor in Texas A&M’s offense. That battle in the trenches will make or break the Aggie offense. Texas A&M needs to take advantage of the edge and creating short gains on the ground. Clemson was still talented in terms of pursuit and tackles for loss,
In terms of passing, quick strikes to tight end Jace Sternberger and wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon should alleviate some stress for quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel. A goal should be to force the linebackers to drop back into coverage as much as possible. Yeah, trying to beat this Clemson defense is damn near impossible, but trying to manage the game and keep their defense on the field to wear them out would be the best thing possible.
Their depth at corner is also an easy exploit. The Tigers lost Ryan Carter, and the few experienced corners the Tigers have on roster have had frustrating campaigns. Exploiting the quick pass and tiring the secondary out should be the focus. The key battle in the air will be Trayvon Mullen vs. Jhamon Ausbon.
On defense, the Aggies have their work cut out for them. Clemson’s O-Line is an experienced bunch, having been on roster and in the trenches for the National Championship campaign. Attacking newly converted right guard Sean Pollard is the best option, forcing him to shift off his inside foot as much as possible. Daylon Mack needs to take advantage of the middle. Clemson has a three-year starter at left tackle, so focus on the middle of the line.
Between Clemson’s quarterbacks, they have to deal with two key leaders. Kelly Bryant will most likely be the starter on Saturday. The dual-threat QB is very good in the short game, but his mechanics are still a bit of. Trevor Lawrence is a wild card for Clemson. He received plenty of action vs Furman, and with his size (6’6 with a cannon of an arm) he’s a threat. But we do not know where he is at. One warmup game is no way to judge his performance, even if it was astounding.
At the skill positions, Travis Etienne will take most of the carries. He returns as Clemson’s leading rusher, although he struggles with pass protection. At receiver, looks to see Tee Higgins and Derion Kendrick to be the big targets down the field. Clemson has the ability to air it out and pick apart A&Ms weaker secondary.
This is going to be a tooth and nail type of game where defense is going to take over. Yes, both offenses are very talented, and feature some big names, the battle on the line of scrimmage with be the heavy factor. I believe that Texas A&M has a shot at winning at home, but the secondary needs to make big stops and the front seven have to hold the line.