Pigskin Picks: Special teams might decide Georgia-Clemson
CLEMSON — Both offenses are scary, no matter what Jadeveon Clowney says.
Both defenses are suspect, and will get contributions from impact newcomers who will become fan favorites by the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Oddly, No. 8 Clemson’s best chance for an edge against No. 5 Georgia on Saturday night at Death Valley might be on special teams.
“I hope so,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “One thing I’m excited about for our football team is it’s probably the deepest team we’ve had scholarship-wise, depth-wise and talent-wise. And that helps you in special teams.”
The Bulldogs under Mark Richt tend to get big plays on special teams, most recently in a close 2012 SEC championship game loss to Alabama.
Clemson has All-America kicker candidate Chandler Catanzaro and game-breaker Sammy Watkins plugged into a spotlight return role. The Tigers have worked hard to fix the kickoff coverage leaks of last year.
So, of course, I disagree with my Pigskin Picks partner Warren Peper right off the bat.
Again, we hope you have fun trying to win prizes and pride picking against us this year. See www.postandcourier.com/pigskinpicks for details, and check out our three-pick webcast each Tuesday.
Georgia at Clemson
Picking the winner is almost as difficult as picking the ESPN “GameDay” guest picker: Nancy O’Dell? Nikki Haley? C.J. Spiller? Or Vince Vaughn?
Gene Sapakoff pick: Georgia, 28-27
Warren Peper pick: Clemson, 27-21
CSU at The Citadel
The Jamey Chadwell era starts at Charleston Southern. The Citadel better not look ahead to Wofford.
Sapakoff pick: The Citadel, 31-10
Peper pick: The Citadel, 24-14
Coastal Carolina at S.C. State
It would be fun if these two teams meet again in the FCS playoffs.
Sapakoff pick: Coastal Carolina, 31-20
Peper pick: Coastal Carolina, 29-20
Alabama vs. Va. Tech
Alabama’s schedule is so soft, this might be one of the three toughest defenses the Crimson Tide will face.
Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 28-10
Peper pick: Alabama, 30-15
LSU vs. TCU
LSU needs quarterback Zach Mettenberger to keep improving.
Sapakoff pick: LSU, 21-16
Peper pick: LSU, 24-20
Penn State vs. Syracuse
Notice a pattern here? Could be a very long week for the ACC in non-conference games.
Sapakoff pick: Penn State, 30-13
Peper pick: Penn State, 19-16
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State
Quarterback Tyler Russell and the Bulldogs are picked at or near the bottom of the SEC West and pretty ticked off about it.
Sapakoff pick: Oklahoma State, 31-21
Peper pick: Oklahoma State, 27-17
BYU at Virginia
The Cavaliers need a big day from running back Kevin Parks to win a close game.
Sapakoff pick: BYU, 14-13
Peper pick: BYU, 24-17
Washington State at Auburn
Mike Leach vs. Gus Malzahn. Theoretically, the scoreboard should explode and the game should last five hours.
Sapakoff pick: Auburn, 42-34
Peper pick: Auburn, 29-17
Northwestern at Cal
Northwestern will be 4-0 heading to its Oct. 5 homecoming game — against Ohio State.
Sapakoff pick: Northwestern, 28-14
Peper pick: Northwestern, 21-20
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff