The No. 1 team in the country, the Clemson Tigers, will get an early-season test when No. 12 Texas A&M comes to town for a non-conference showdown Saturday. Both teams come into the contest 1-0 after easy victories in their openers.
The Aggies had an easy time of it with Texas State, routing the Bobcats 41-7 behind the sterling play of quarterback Kellen Mond. The defending national champs stayed in conference for their season opener, easily taking care of Georgia Tech 52-14, with Travis Etienne’s running leading the offensive charge.
The moneyline for this contest has the Texas A&M Aggies +600 and the Clemson Tigers -900. The Tigers are favored by 16.5 points, and the over/under has been set at 63.5.
Wanting A Little More
Everyone remembers Clemson romping through the College Football Playoff, winning its two games over Notre Dame and Alabama by an average of 27.5 points. But most don’t remember that the Tigers’ closest game in their perfect season was a two-point victory over Texas A&M in Week 2 of the season. Mond had a great game in that one, throwing for 430 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 33 yards, though the Aggies trailed 21-6 in the third before rallying to make it close, only to have a two-point conversion try with 46 seconds to play intercepted.
To turn around that result, the Aggies have to start quickly, especially playing at Death Valley this time. Falling behind the Tigers will make it difficult, but getting ahead and putting some doubt in their minds — as well as forcing Trevor Lawrence to have to go to the pass more often — would do wonders for Texas A&M’s chances. Offensive lineman Jared Hocker has already predicted an upset win for the Aggies, and he merely stated the confidence that permeates through the A&M squad going into this one.
Clemson has a balanced offense, with Etienne able to rush for 205 yards and three touchdowns as he did in the opener, or Lawrence able to pass for 347 yards and three scores as he did in the national championship win over Alabama. Lawrence came back to Earth a bit last week, throwing two interceptions and finishing with just 168 yards passing in the win over Georgia Tech, but he has the potential to take over a game with his arm if need be.
The Tigers’ defense played very well in the win over the Yellow Jackets, recording four sacks and eight tackles for loss despite an all-new defensive front. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons led the way with 10 tackles, and he’ll be watching Mond thoughout this contest to make sure the A&M quarterback doesn’t get loose for big runs.
Tigers Win Close One
Texas A&M has no fear of the defending champion Tigers, especially after coming so close to tying their contest a season ago. Coach Jimbo Fisher will have his team fired up and ready to go for this one, so a 16.5-point spread seems a little too big. I like Clemson to win the game, but I’m taking Texas A&M +16.5 to cover.