3 reasons why Auburn beats No. 2 Clemson

AUBURN, health Ala. — Auburn is an underdog at home and not many are giving the Tigers a chance against No. 2 Clemson, order but we believe there are several reason why they have a shot against the national runner-up from a season ago.

In fact, search here are three things Auburn has in its favor heading into the 8:05 p.m. CT kickoff on ESPN.

1. Auburn’s defensive line is better than Clemson’s offensive line
Clemson has experience at three spots along its offensive line, but two new starters are in the fray (they have some experience, too). We’re not so sure the visiting Tigers can match up with Auburn’s defensive line led by Carl Lawson on the edge and Montravius Adams in the middle. If Auburn can stop the run and get pressure on Deshaun Watson, it will give Auburn’s offense a shot at scoring points and staying on the field longer. If that happens, the defensive line’s deep rotation — they roll at least 10 deep — will take over this game and dominate in the fourth quarter.

For all of the hype we’ve heard about the defensive line, it’s time to prove it against a Clemson offensive line that might be a work in progress at a couple of spots in the trenches. Auburn should have the advantage up front on paper, so if Clemson starts pushing the home Tigers around, this could get ugly quickly for Auburn. If not, then Auburn has a good shot at knocking off the No. 2 team in the country.

Sacking Deshaun Watson a few times would be nice, but stopping running back Wayne Gallman (a record setter in his own right) should be paramount early in this game. Clemson is going to score points, but Auburn absolutely can not allow the offense to consistently run the football down its throat.

It’s up to Adams, Devaroe Lawrence, Dontavius Russell, Maurice Swain Jr. and other to step up and plug the hole. This is the biggest show-me-what-you’ve-got-game for defensive line coach Rodney Garner’s group since the Gus Malzahn era started in 2013.

2. The home-field advantage
This is low-hanging fruit, sure, but Auburn fans can make a big difference tonight on the Plains. Teams feed off the energy of its fans, especially in season openers, and the home Tigers are going to need it tonight against No. 2 Clemson. When Clemson faces a third-and-long, the defense needs the fans to cheer as if it’s the Iron Bowl.

We’re not so sure Deshaun Watson will be rattled by the noise. At this point he’s a veteran and has proven himself to be the best quarterback in the country, but what fans can do is provoke false starts, frustration from defenders after plays and general confusion before plays at the line of scrimmage.

Auburn did not win a single SEC game at home in 2015, and Clemson is certainly an SEC-caliber team, so what better way to break that streak by knocking off the second-ranked team in the country? Lee Corso believes it can. Why shouldn’t you?

Auburn fans needs to bring the noise tonight for their Tigers to have a chance against Clemson. It’s that simple.

3. The new Sean White
We have written in this space plenty of times about the successes and follies of Sean White as Auburn’s quarterback. Simply put, he was hindered by a knee and foot injury last season and we never truly saw the real Sean White on the football field. He completed 64 percent of his passes when healthy and only 39 percent of his throws when he was not.

Auburn’s new starters if fully healed and ready to play, and what we like about him is his quick-fire release in the pocket. That attribute will match what Auburn is going for on the edges perfectly in this game. It certainly appears Auburn is going for speed over height and girth at receiver (Darius Slayton, Jason Smith, Ryan Davis, etc.) and running back (Kerryon Johnson), and that’s by design (of course). Auburn not only wants to return to its hurry-up roots, but it wants fast receivers and running backs capable of turning plays at the line of scrimmage on screens and draws into monstrous gains that cause the Clemson defense to tire while chasing them down.

 

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