Skip to main content

Clemson Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers Game Preview and Prediction

Carl Lawson

Carl Lawson

The Tigers of Auburn and Clemson share more than just a nickname. They are both proud southern institutions with rich football history.

Image placeholder title

But measuring success in 2016 will be different for the two teams. While winning a title is always the goal at Auburn, the Tigers must first become competitive again in the SEC West after finishing 7-6 last season.

With most of a dynamic offense returning from the team that won the ACC and played in the national title game, Clemson’s expectations are much higher. They have a proven head coach with a top Heisman contender at quarterback and a defensive coordinator that knows how to put the pieces together. Clemson knows that this fall could be very special once again.

The two programs have played each other 48 times with Auburn holding a 33-13-2 edge. However, the schools have not battled very often recently, as this will be just the sixth meeting since 1971.

Clemson at Auburn

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 3 at 9 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Clemson -7.5

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Three Things to Watch

1. Auburn Quarterback Play

Three Auburn quarterbacks battled it out for the starting position in camp. Most expected John Franklin III to win the job because he seemed to fit head coach Gus Malzahn’s spread offense the best, but last week Malzahn announced that Sean White would be running the show against Clemson. White split time with Jeremy Johnson — the third quarterback contender – last season and threw for 1,166 yards with just one touchdown and four interceptions. Plus, he is not a threat to run the ball, something that is useful for a quarterback in Malzahn’s system. While Clemson lost several of its top defenders from last season, there is plenty of talent still around and coordinator Brent Venables knows how to concoct a plan to disrupt opposing signal callers.

2. Clemson’s Quarterback

Unlike the Auburn situation, there is no question about the other team’s quarterback. But when you talk about the things to watch for Clemson, Deshaun Watson is always on the list. Auburn’s defense was mediocre in 2015, but they have some young guys that look ready to blossom and have a key member returning from injury. The deep group of Clemson receivers should get a challenge from a good Auburn secondary, spearheaded by sophomore cornerback Carlton Davis. It will be interesting to see how Watson can integrate Mike Williams back into the offense after the receiver missed virtually all of 2015 with a neck injury. No matter what happens, Watson will most assuredly be entertaining.

3. Clemson Tackle Mitch Hyatt vs. Auburn Defensive End Carl Lawson

This will be a big boy battle in the trenches. Lawson had a huge freshman season before injuries limited his play over the next two years. Now recovered from last year’s hip problem, Lawson will be counted on to provide leadership and production up front. He will have to be ready right away in week one because the guy on the other side of the line of scrimmage is one of the best in America. Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt won the starting job last fall as a true freshman and at times was the team’s best lineman. Athlon has Hyatt as a preseason second-team All-American and a first-team All-ACC selection. Lawson will be moved around a bit, but the two stars will have many individual matchups over the course of the evening.

Final Analysis

Auburn’s defense could be fairly stout this season. The line with Montravius Adams, Dontavius Russell, and Byron Cowart along with Lawson should be very good and the secondary has three strong returning starters. But Clemson’s offense should be able to score on anyone and at some point the passing of Watson combined with the running of Watson and Wayne Gallman will explode. And Auburn will have no answer when they have the ball. White had difficulty in the passing game last year, he is not a strong runner, and the Auburn rushing attack is suspect after the dismissal of running back Jovon Robinson. With the excitement of an opening game at home and a stingy defense, Auburn will be able to keep it close in the first half before Clemson widens the margin after the break for a comfortable victory.

Image placeholder title

Prediction: Clemson 34, Auburn 13

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.