AUBURN, Ala. — This is what some might call a “momentum game.”
Auburn and No. 3 Clemson will face off on Saturday night in what’s sure to be a jam-packed Death Valley. It won’t be quiet, and rightfully so.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers jumped up in the rankings after Week 1 and are expected to top the ACC. On the other side of that is Auburn, who many believe have the potential to upset Alabama in the SEC West in 2017.
There will still be a lot of football left to play in the coming months, but a Week 2 win will speak volumes.
As always, our SEC Country staff has spent the week speaking with Malzahn, coaches and players on the Auburn campus. Now it’s time to make a game prediction.
Justin Ferguson: Clemson 27, Auburn 23
Auburn needs to hit some big plays downfield in order to knock off Clemson on Saturday night. The playbook needs to be more open, Jarrett Stidham needs to knock some more of that rust off, the offensive line — especially the tackles — need to tighten things up, and the outside receivers need better showings. Running right at Clemson’s star-studded defensive front over and over won’t get it done. I think the Tigers will have some success in this area, and this game could go either way. I’m still ever-so-slightly leaning toward the favorite at home. Clemson wins a nail-biter, although it’s one most Auburn fans will be able to stomach thanks to a better-looking offensive game against an elite defense.
Lauren Shute: Auburn 31, Clemson 28
First and foremost, Auburn’s defense needs to come out even hungrier than it did in Week 1. If you’re looking to make a statement and earn respect, stepping into Death Valley and holding the defending national champs in check (relatively, at least) might do the trick. Auburn also needs to limit mistakes.Gus Malzahn and Dabo Swinney’s teams are in similar situations. Offensively both programs have new quarterbacks at the helm while defense is going to dictate tempo. The team who has made the fewest mistakes and puts together the most complete game will come out with a W. Auburn doesn’t want to let Clemson inch away again.
Benjamin Wolk: Clemson 24, Auburn 20
I think it’s going to be a defensive struggle regardless, but the lower the score, the more I like Auburn’s chances. The Tigers will likely give Kamryn Pettway a heavy dose of carries, and he’s going to have to return to his Heisman potential form from last season to open things up for Jarrett Stidham and the passing game. With that said, based on homefield advantage alone, I’m taking Clemson 24-20.
Zac Blackerby: Auburn 20, Clemson 13
Auburn’s main focus should be to slow down Clemson’s defensive front. With the Auburn offensive line struggling against the pass against Georgia Southern, Clemson will attempt to utilize its strength to take advantage of Auburn’s weakness. If the Tigers can limit pressure of quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Auburn can return to the Plains with a win.
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