Auburn vs. Clemson preview

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We’re less than two weeks out from football, and it’s time to start looking ahead to all week-one games.

The Matchup: Auburn vs. No. 14 Clemson

When: Saturday, September 1st

Where: Atlanta, Georgia – Georgia Dome

Game Time: 7:00 PM ET

TV: ESPN

What you need to know about Clemson: The Tigers return a 3,800 yard and 33 TD passer, a 1,178 yard back and two receivers who caught over 900 yards worth of passes. The good news is the Tigers’ best player in wide receiver Sammy Watkins is suspended for the first two games because of his off-season arrest. That’s a huge hole.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd is the catalyst for the offense, and he had a huge year last year as a first-year starter. Running back Andre Ellington is a proven stud, as he had 11 touchdowns last year. And don’t let Watkins’ absence get Auburn fans too hopeful, because CU’s second best receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, is very explosive as well.

However, Clemson returns only two starters along the offensive line, so they are very young and inexperienced at the position.

There is talent all over the field for Clemson at the skill positions, and Auburn cannot sleep on anyone.

Defensively, Clemson returns six starters, led by linebacker Stephone Anthony.

What you need to know about Auburn: Auburn returns 15 starters from last year’s very green team. The offensive and defensive coordinators are both new, and they look to gel with this team in game one. The strength of this Auburn team is along the defensive line, led by returners Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae.

The Tigers return three on the offensive line and nine of eleven on defense. The quarterback hasn’t been named yet, but we can assume that dual-threat Kiehl Frazier will get the nod, seeing he’s the most athletic quarterback on the team, and Clint Moseley has been limited due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

The defense was criticized last year for being way too soft. We saw that in game one when Utah State ran right through the teeth of the defense.

Auburn cannot afford to play as lackluster as last year’s opening game, or they will be run out of the Georgia Dome by a fast Clemson team.

What you need to watch: When any ACC team takes on the SEC, we head straight to the SEC’s defensive line. And this is a very good one, with Corey Lemonier, Nosa Eguae, Kenneth Carter, Jeffrey Whitaker and LaDarius Owens. They are fast and physical, and Lemonier looks to hoist himself in the upper echelon of ends in this league. As previously noted, Clemson is breaking in three new starters on the offensive line. I look for Auburn to really attack that line and Brian VanGorder to really preach physicality as a mentality.

Clemson is going in as the favorite, but don’t be surprised if Auburn finds a way to win a close football game.

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