INSIDE THE GAME: Clemson vs. Auburn
Hereís a look at what might be the difference when No. 14 Clemson meets Auburn at 7 p.m. today in Atlanta (ESPN).
Auburn has the element of surprise on its side tonight with two new coordinators. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder hasnít been involved in college football since 2006. He was the defensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons the last four years. What the Auburn defenders are familiar with is the Clemson offensive scheme. They have practiced against it the previous three years when up-tempo, no-huddle mastermind Gus Malzahn was Auburnís offensive coordinator.
To win tonight Clemson must correct a major defensive flaw from last season: rush defense. Clemson finished 81st in the country against the run (177 ypg) and Auburn features a talented tailback (Onterio McCalebb), a mobile quarterback (Kiehl Frazier), and an offensive coordinator in Scott Loeffler who led Temple to the nationís seventh-best rushing offense last year. The other math problem is this: Clemson was 0-3 last season when Sammy Watkins received six or fewer touches from scrimmage. Watkins is suspended for this game.
Stress testing Tajh
Tajh Boyd says he is an improved quarterback, a better game manager than he was last season when he threw nine interceptions in the last six games. His improvement will be tested in a game where he is expected to be pressured as an inexperienced Clemson offensive line faces a deep and talented Auburn defensive line.
Clemsonís victory over Auburn last year was its first since 1951, snapping a 14-game losing streak. Historical trends are difficult to break and Clemsonís history against Auburn and its history in Atlanta suggests tonightís game will be a major challenge.
AUBURN 30, CLEMSON 27