- Georgia upset Clemson on a neutral field in Week 1
- The national championship odds for both teams moved significantly
- See the updated college football national title odds, below
Playing in the much-maligned ACC, the Clemson Tigers had a great chance to silence some critics and open their season with a quality win over another top-five team on Saturday. Instead, it was the Georgia Bulldogs – long the understudy to Alabama in the hypercompetitive SEC – who got the job done in a de facto road game.
Both defenses shone brightly in a 10-3 affair at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The only touchdown came on an interception return and the two offenses combined for a measly 436 total yards. But Georgia got the win and that’s ultimately what matters most to oddsmakers. The new college football national championship odds show the Bulldogs second only to Alabama now.
2022 CFP National Championship Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
Odds as of Sep. 5, 2021.
Clemson’s Offense Looks Depleted
Taking the reins from #1-overall pick Trevor Lawrence, DJ Uiagalelei stumbled out of the gates. The 6’4 sophomore went 19-37 for 178 yards, no touchdowns, one pick-six, and -22 rushing yards. He was under pressure the entire game and the UGA defense finished with seven sacks and eight tackles-for-loss. Uiagalelei’s QBR was a dismal 36.7 after four quarters.
This stands in stark contrast to his performances last season when Lawrence was sidelined. He started two games, a 47-40 double-OT loss at Notre Dame and a 34-28 win versus Boston College. In total, he was 59-85 (69.4 completion percentage) for 781 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was only sacked three times total in the two games.
Clemson’s offensive line was overwhelmed by the Bulldogs. It got no push up front – Clemson had just two net rushing yards on the game – and struggled to give Uiagalelei any time when he dropped back. This is something of a carry over from last year, especially the struggles rushing the football against good teams. When the Tigers got waxed by Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl last season, they had just 44 rushing yards to the Buckeyes’ 254.
It seems pretty clear that the offensive line doesn’t have the horses to be an elite unit this year.
The defense, however, might be able to carry this team to untold heights. Unlike the offense, which only returns five starters, the defense has nine starters back from last season, including senior leader James Skalski. The linebacker racked up 14 total tackles against Georgia.
While it’s hard to criticize a unit that only surrendered three points to a top-five team, one area of concern is the pass rush. They only managed one sack and two more QB hurries, unlike the UGA front seven, which lived in the Clemson backfield.
Georgia Is Going to Be a Problem
It’s important not to overreact to one game, especially the first of the season, but it’s clear that this Bulldogs team has a chance to be special. Playing in a hostile environment, they pulled off one of the most-impressive defensive performances in recent memory against a legitimate national-championship contender.
The offense was by no means explosive, but it consistently moved the football more effectively than Clemson. JT Daniels was 22/30 for a miniscule 22/30 yards, but he was at least accurate. On the ground, a committee of backs wound up with 121 yards on 31 carries – a respectable 3.9 YPC against one of the nation’s best defenses.
Looking ahead, Georgia has a tremendous chance to finish the regular season undefeated. Playing an SEC schedule could never be classified as “easy” in this era, but Georgia avoids: #1 Alabama, #6 Texas A&M, and #16 LSU (who won’t be #16 for long). Their crossover games with the SEC West are Arkansas and Auburn.
Yes, Florida is a legitimate threat in the SEC East, and Alabama always looms in the SEC championship game. But with a win under Clemson already under its belt, if this team goes 12-0 before falling the Bama in the SEC title game, it’s still going to the College Football Playoff.