SI.com Game of the Week: Clemson vs. Alabama

Cory McCartney breaks down the Clemson-Alabama contest – SI.com’s Game of the Week in college football.

Three Things You Should Care About

C.J. Spiller1.Clemson has tons of talent and tons of hype. Can it live up to its billing? The Tigers head into the Georgia Dome with their highest preseason ranking since 1991 and 15 returning starters, including James Davis, Cullen Harper and C.J. Spiller, who finished 1-2-3 in the ACC preseason Player of the Year voting.

2. Ladies and gentlemen, Julio Jones is in the building. There’s no arguing with the recruiting prowess of Nick Saban, who has brought in recruiting classes ranked 10th and first in two seasons at Alabama. The latest class includes five-star wide receiver/kick returner Julio Jones and linebacker Don’ta Hightower, both of whom who will be in the starting lineup Saturday.

3. Atlanta and the Crimson Tide: two things that don’t bode well for the Tigers. Since Clemson joined the ACC in 1953, Hotlanta has been a city of horrors for the Tigers, who are 7-31-1 all-time in the Georgia capital. That figure includes trips to conference foe Georgia Tech and the Peach/Chick-fil-A Bowl, where the Tigers are 1-6. Since 1992 that bowl has been played in the Georgia Dome — where they’ll face the Tide on Saturday.

The Pick:
Clemson 24, Alabama 14. It would be a colossal disappointment for Bowden and the ACC if the conference’s best team choked in a high-profile opener. But it’s not going to happen. These Tigers are out to prove they’re beyond tripping on their own feet, and a win in an atmosphere that will be the closest they’ve seen to a BCS game would be a solid start. Clemson’s rebuilt offensive line could be an issue, but with so many weapons at the Tigers’ disposal, getting in the backfield may not help ‘Bama anyway.

This is a great test for Clemson, who always seems to underachieve under Tommy Bowden at one point during the season. This is the most talented Clemson team Bowden has had so it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep his team focused to not only make a run at the ACC crown, but also a national championship.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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