The defending national champions looked sharp in their season-opener, topping Kent State 56-3, while quarterback Kelly Bryant led the offense for the first time since the legendary Deshaun Watson moved on to the NFL. Auburn looked solid as well, handling Georgia Southern 41-7 in a game in which the Tigers defense allowed just 78 total yards.
What should you expect in the top 10 matchup between Auburn and Clemson?
Date: Saturday, Sept. 9 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Clemson Memorial Stadium -- Clemson, South Carolina
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Auburn: The Tigers didn't so much in their season opener through the air. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham (14-for-24 passing, 185 yards) and the Tigers offense kept things very vanilla. They got 136-yard performances on the ground from both Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin, and they didn't have to open up their versatile group of wide receivers downfield. That will change in this one. While Johnson's status is questionable with a hamstring injury, coach Gus Malzahn gets bruising running back Kamryn Pettway and wide receiver Kyle Davis back off suspension. You'll see "Auburn 2.0" in Week 2. If the new-look offense clicks, it could make the difference.
Clemson: Bryant might not be as effective of a passer as Watson, but he looks like more of an all-around running threat. In addition to his 236 passing yards, he added 77 yards and a score on the ground and looks capable of doing the dirty work inside as well as making things happen outside of the tackles. If he can stay composed behind his veteran offensive line, the offense can have success. Defensively, it'll be up to the defensive front to take advantage of an Auburn offensive line that had some bad moments against Georgia Southern, and see if Stidham can handle the biggest road environment of his career.
Auburn's defensive front will force Bryant into a couple of game-changing mistakes, set up the offense in good field position and the SEC variety of Tigers will spring the upset. Expect Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey to throw more on first down than Auburn has in the past, loosen up the defense deep downfield and with intermediate passes over the middle, and then shut the door late with Pettway and the running game. Pick: Auburn +5.5