(2) Clemson @


Sat, Sep 3
6:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 183
Odds: Auburn +8, Total: 63.5

Game Analysis

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Clemson (-8)  37   AUBURN  26

Auburn had a down season in 2015, going from being about 21 points better than average team in 2013 and 2014 to being only 12 points better than average last season. The biggest issue was an offense that was among the best in the nation with mobile quarterback Nick Marshall at quarterback in head coach Guz Malzahn’s first two seasons. It was expected that Jeremy Johnson would step in and be an instant star but Johnson wasn’t nearly as good as a starter as he was in a backup role the previous two seasons (10.8 yards per pass play on 79 pass plays). Johnson played with much more hesitation in his decision making and he averaged only 6.1 yppp last season. Freshman Sean White got the opportunity to start in the Tigers’ 4th game and started 4 more games before sitting for 4 games and then starting in the bowl victory over Memphis. White was better than Johnson, averaging 7.3 yppp against teams that would allow 6.1 yppp to an average quarterback while also being less turnover prone. Auburn went from being 3.4 yards per pass play better than average in 2015 to a more modest 0.8 yppp better than average last season. The rushing attack, meanwhile, went from among the best in the nation to average, as the Tigers managed only 4.9 yards per rushing play (against teams that would allow 4.9 yprp to an average team).

Nick Marshall ran for 2074 yards at 7.1 yards per rushing play in his two seasons but Johnson and White combined to run for just 338 yards at 5.9 yprp last season. The read-option that Auburn ran so frequently with Marshall was difficult for even the best defenses to defend and the diminished role of the read-option last season affected the production of the running backs, who were worse than average as a group. I had thought that JC transfer John Franklin would win the quarterback job so Malzahn could go back to running the read option, as Franklin is a gifted runner, but White gets the nod to start this game. Either Franklin is inept as a passer or White improved even more than what would be expected from a sophomore with starting experience (usually a significant improvement). I’ll assume White is going to be significantly improved in the passing game and he’ll run better this season after playing hurt in his final 3 starts last season (only 4 runs, after running 16 times in his first 3 starts). However, the running backs have got to step up and the dismissal of presumptive starter Jovon Robinson hurts that cause. Auburn should be better offensively this season but not close to the 2013 and 2014 levels.

Auburn’s defense improved in my ratings for a 4th consecutive season in 2015 and I rate that unit at 0.7 yards per play better than average heading into this season, which is the same rating as last year. The Tigers should be better defending the run but the pass defense is projected to slip a little – although it will still be solid.

Clemson, of course, has high expectations after their close loss to Alabama in the National Championship game last season. The Tigers’ offense was very efficient last season with DeShaun Watson rating as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and I expect even better production from Watson and his teammates in 2016 with the starting running back and 7 of last year’s 9 top receivers returning along with star Mike Williams, who was 2nd Team All-ACC in 2014 but was lost for the season in week 1 last year. I rate the Clemson attack at #2 in the nation and project the Tigers to rack up 510 yards at 6.6 yppl in this game against a pretty good Auburn stop unit.

The Clemson defense was 1.2 yards per play better than average last season and lost a lot of talent to the NFL. With just 4 returning starters you might think that Clemson would not be as good defensively. However, last season the Tigers’ defense had just 3 returning starters from a dominating 2014 unit that that lost a lot of talent to the NFL, so why couldn’t they be just as good defensively this season as they were last season? My algorithm doesn’t expect them to be quite as good as they were defensively last season but they should still be one of the nation’s best defensive teams with plenty of talent filling the holes – as was the case last year. My ratings project Auburn to gain 363 yard at 5.3 yppl and overall the math favors Clemson by 10 points. In addition to some line value, Clemson applies to a 49-15-1 ATS week 1 road favorite situation, so I’ll lean their way tonight.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Clemson
  • Auburn


  • Run Plays 34.0 38.3
  • Run Yards 152.0 152.8
  • YPRP 4.6 4.6


  • Pass Comp 24.5 18.0
  • Pass Att 41.5 32.8
  • Comp % 59.0% 55.0%
  • Pass Yards 287.5 186.0
  • Sacks 0.5 3.0
  • Sack Yards 3.3 22.0
  • Sack % 1.2% 8.4%
  • Pass Plays 42.0 35.8
  • Net Pass Yards 284.3 164.0
  • YPPP 6.8 4.6


  • Total Plays 76.0 74.0
  • Total Yards 439.5 338.8
  • YPPL 5.8 4.6


  • Int 1.8 1.8
  • Int % 4.2% 5.3%
  • Fumbles 1.0 0.8
  • Turnovers 2.8 2.5
  • Points 35.2 16.0
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