Georgia and Clemson, universities about an hour-and-a-half drive apart, renew a dormant rivalry with a monster matchup that harkens back to the programs’ previous glory days.
Tonight’s showdown in Death Valley — calibrate your smartphones to the expected kickoff time of 8:22 p.m. — showcases a fifth-ranked Georgia team that nearly played for the national title last season against an eighth-ranked Clemson team that would love to crash the Southeastern Conference’s seven-year BCS title party.
“A lot of the younger Georgia fans wouldn’t realize what a rival game that this is,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said, “but it certainly has a lot of rich history to it. Looking forward to adding to it.”
It’s the first time Georgia has opened the season with a matchup of top-10 teams.
A Labor Day showdown against Clemson in 1982 in Athens was as close as it got previously.
On that night, No. 6 Georgia prevailed over No. 11 Clemson, 13-7, in Sanford Stadium.
“That was a real big rivalry, a real intense rivalry back in those days,” said Homer Jordan, the starting quarterback for Clemson from 1980-82 who still lives in his hometown of Athens, where he played and later coached at Cedar Shoals. “It was physical. When that game came around, it had the same excitement and buildup as they do right now.”
Georgia and Clemson haven’t played since 2003 but played annually from 1973 to 1987.
Read More – Classic reunion: UGA, Clemson
This from the Bleacher Report:
Clemson Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs Complete Game Preview
Can Georgia’s secondary slow Tajh Boyd?: Boyd has established himself as one of the nation’s elite quarterbacks; a two-time ACC Player of the Year and returning All-American, he threw for 3,896 yards and accounted for 46 touchdowns last fall (36 passing, 10 rushing). Boyd has a stable of talented wideouts, led by junior Sammy Watkins, one of four players ever to be named a first-team Associated Press All-American as a true freshman, as well as juniors Martavis Bryant and Charone Peake and highly-touted freshman Mike Wiliams.
Junior cornerback Damian Swann is the secondary’s only returning starter from 2012, and the unit has been further thinned by suspensions and injuries. Projected starting safety Josh Harvey-Clemons will miss this week due to a suspension connected to a May incident involving marijuana possession. And freshman Tray Matthews, a projected starter at free safety, only returned to practice this week while battling shoulder and hamstring injuries which have limited him this month.
Can Clemson’s secondary slow Aaron Murray and Georgia’s offense?: The secondary was Clemson’s Achilles heel in 2012; the Tigers yielded 240 passing yards per game to foes. Veteran cornerbacks Martin Jenkins, Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland have returned from injuries that sidelined them for parts or all of last season, but along with junior Garry Peters, no clear starters have emerged. In addition, sophomore Travis Blanks (a freshman All-America at strongside linebacker) and junior Robert Smith will be making their first career starts at safety.
Murray is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks; he threw for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns against 10 interceptions as a junior last fall, completing 64.5 percent of his passes. Combine his arm with the powerful backfield duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and you have a pick-your-poison scenario for Clemson’s defense. The Tigers’ front seven will be a strength, but can it overcome a questionable secondary?
via Bleacher Report.