The Week 1 slate offers a number of fascinating games, but not all of them take place on a campus. Alabama-USC is perhaps the most notable neutral site game, but keep an eye on another SEC game: Auburn hosting Clemson at 9 p.m. ET.
Jordan-Hare Stadium is going to be pulsing. Is Clemson, the defending national runner-ups, ready for the challenge?
Clemson Storyline: It’s all about offense, offense, offense. The Tigers could be historically great on that side of the ball. It starts with quarterback and Heisman contender Deshaun Watson, but it certainly doesn’t end there; his supporting cast is off the charts. Running back Wayne Gallman, tight end Jordan Leggett and the deepest, most talented wide receiver group in the country are back to put up huge numbers.
But say this for Auburn: the defense should be up to the task. Eight starters return from last year’s group, but the flip side is the Tigers ranked near the bottom of the SEC in every major statistical category. Still, the defensive line is the strength, which could cause disruptions up front. It’s not the stingiest defense Clemson will face this year, but it’s talented in spots.
Auburn Storyline: This game will neither save nor end coach Gus Malzahn’s career on The Plains, but boy, a win would give him a lot of grace. It wasn’t that long ago that Malzahn was viewed as Auburn’s savior and Nick Saban’s Kryptonite, neither of which turned out to be absolutes.
While such narratives were too lofty, what continues to be the stunning is the quarterback situation. Sean White will start, but he was pedestrian at best last season as he battled through injuries. The coaching staff believes White has improved, but that remains to be seen. Even if Auburn loses this game, there would be some optimism if Malzahn’s offense shows shades of 2013 and ’14.
Pick: Clemson +7.5. Wonky things can happening in the opening week and Malzahn is familiar with all things absurd. There’s a part of me — in the deepest, darkest corner of my mind — that believes beyond all logic and reason that if any team is going to pull an upset, it’s Auburn… at home… at night. But I’m not sold on the offensive improvement until I see it and Clemson’s offense is just too loaded. Auburn has enough defensively up front to make this interesting, but unless Clemson trips over itself a dozen times in 60 minutes, it probably doesn’t have enough to win.
For full Week 1 picks against the spread, check out our Expert Picks page.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Clemson vs. Auburn line, game pick: Clemson’s hyped offense gets its first test