CLEMSON, S.C. – As if playing at Clemson hadn't been tough enough in recent years, Georgia Tech has to journey to Death Valley on Thursday - the night the top-ranked Tigers will honor last year's national championship team. Clemson is heavily favored as it begins its title defense and aims for a 16th consecutive victory.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: Clemson -36
The Tigers are coming off their fourth consecutive outright ACC title, and they've been especially dominant at home, where they've gone undefeated in four of the last five seasons. Clemson's ACC dominance has been especially prevalent against the Coastal Division, as the Tigers are 11-1 in cross-divisional matchups since 2015 - including seven straight victories. That stretch also includes four consecutive triumphs over the Yellow Jackets, who haven't won at Clemson since 2008. Georgia Tech has not beaten a top-ranked team since knocking off Virginia en route to a share of the 1990 national championship.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (2018: 7-6)
It figures to be a tough season for the Yellow Jackets as they transition from the option attack they ran for 11 years under Paul Johnson to a pro-style spread offense under new coach Geoff Collins. Georgia Tech has 55 freshmen on the roster, including redshirt James Graham - one of three inexperienced quarterbacks vying for playing time. The overhaul won't be quite as dramatic on defense, but the Yellow Jackets are moving from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-2-5 look.
ABOUT CLEMSON (2018: 15-0)
The Tigers are the only team in the nation to return a 3,000-yard passer (Trevor Lawrence), 1,500-yard rusher (Travis Etienne) and 1,000-yard receiver (Justyn Ross). Lawrence threw touchdown passes to four different players and Etienne scored twice in the Tigers' 49-21 win at Georgia Tech a year ago, and they're working behind an experienced offensive line that includes four senior starters. The defense is a bit more of a question mark for the Tigers, who return only four starters on that side of the ball and have to replace the entire starting line.
1. Lawrence, who will try to match Tajh Boyd's school record of three consecutive games with at least 300 yards passing, has thrown 169 passes without an interception - 18 shy of Boyd's record mark.
2. Ross will attempt to become the sixth player in Clemson history with three consecutive 100-yard receiving games, a feat most recently accomplished by Sammy Watkins in 2013.
3. Georgia Tech has played 274 consecutive games without being shut out as it was last blanked 38-0 at Florida State in 1997.
PREDICTION: Clemson 48, Georgia Tech 7