After a disappointing, injury-heavy season last year, Georgia is looking to become one of the bounce-back stories of the season. The Bulldogs have plenty of talent, but will be put to the test immediately when Clemson visits Athens Saturday afternoon in one of the first week’s most intriguing matchups.
Even though this is a non-conference game and doesn’t count in the SEC standings, the Bulldogs will look to gain early-season momentum over fellow SEC East contender South Carolina, which was blown out at home by Texas A&M Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Clemson is coming off a big 2013 season that was capped off by a blowout victory over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. But if the Tigers are going to come out of Athens with a win, they will need to find a way to contain Georgia running back Todd Gurley, a preseason Heisman candidate who led the Bulldogs with 989 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games last season.
Here’s what you need to know about the game:
WHO: Clemson at Georgia
WHEN: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Eastern
WHERE: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
LINE: Georgia by 7 1/2
How to Watch on TV & Online
LIVE STREAM: WatchESPN.com (cable provider and log-in required.)
Clemson Players to Watch
Quarterback Cole Stoudt (pictured): A fifth-year senior, Stoudt is experienced, but it won’t be easy to fill the void left by Tahj Boyd. But Stoudt — the son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt — has appeared strong this offseason, and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is confident he’ll be able to step right in for the Tigers.
That’s Cole — that’s just his demeanor, his personality,” Swinney, whose team is coming off consecutive 11-2 seasons, said. “I remember when Tajh got knocked out against Boston College when Cole was a freshman and Cole came in. Here he is a true freshman and we’re in a tough ballgame. He just said, ‘All right, let’s go.’ But that’s Cole.”
Running back D.J. Howard: Howard has 581 career rushing yards, but hasn’t been able to step into the starters’ role yet. But the 5-11, 205-pound senior will finally get his chance Saturday.
Wide receiver Adam Humphries: Humphries will look to lead the Tiger receivers this season after coming off a 2013 campaign that saw him knab 41 receptions for 483 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia Players to Watch
Running back Todd Gurley (pictured): A preseason Heisman candidate, Gurley had an injury-shortened season last year, but is one of the most explosive running backs in the country. With the departure of former Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray, it will be up to Gurley to carry the offensive load.
Quarterback Hutson Mason: Mason will look to replace Murray, one of the school’s all-time great quarterbacks. Over the course of four games filling in for an injured Murray last year, Mason finished with 968 yards and five touchdowns while completing 60.9 percent of his passes.
What the G ” is all about” never give up pic.twitter.com/yOK3qO7PCR
— Hutson Mason (@HMason14) November 10, 2013
Georgia 17, Clemson 14
When Heisman voters are completing their ballots at the end of the season, they will point to games like this one. It’s an opportunity for Gurley to make a strong statement for his Heisman candidacy against an opponent that has struggled against SEC teams.