After putting up big numbers in blowout wins against overmatched opponents in their openers, Auburn and Clemson crank up the competition level for a top-15 clash Saturday. Defending national champion No. 3 Clemson welcomes No. 13 Auburn to Death Valley for a marquee early-season matchup of teams that boast strong defenses.
Auburn turned in a dominant defensive effort in last week’s 41-7 rout of Georgia Southern, and although Clemson represents a much bigger offensive threat, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele expects his unit to be up to the challenge. “It’s about us,” Steele told reporters. “It has nothing to do with who we play, what time we play. You get into that, you’re going to ride the roller coaster, so we don’t allow it, and we hammer it home.” Clemson has won three straight meetings after losing its previous 14 games against Auburn. Clemson has not had a four-game winning streak against an SEC school other than rival South Carolina since winning seven straight against Georgia from 1900-06.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Clemson -5.
ABOUT AUBURN (1-0): Auburn held Georgia Southern to 78 total yards, the lowest total the Tigers have allowed since 1985. The defense overshadowed an impressive offensive performance, as the Tigers racked up 535 total yards even without star running back Kamryn Pettway, who served a one-game suspension. Pettway might have to carry the load with Kerryon Johnson nursing a leg injury after rushing for 136 yards and a score last week.
ABOUT CLEMSON (1-0): Clemson rolled up 665 total yards – the fifth-most in program history – in a 56-3 win over Kent State last week. Quarterback Kelly Bryant was stellar in his debut as the starter, going 16-for-22 for 236 yards and a touchdown and adding 77 rushing yards and another score, and the Tigers had 353 rushing yards without a 100-yard rusher. The Tigers controlled things on defense, too, allowing only 120 total yards and just one pass completion for one yard.
1. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has 11 wins over SEC teams, the most by any active non-SEC coach.
2. Auburn is 8-8 against top-25 teams under coach Gus Malzahn.
3. Auburn is 5-5 all-time against defending national champions, including a 30-12 loss at Alabama last season.
PREDICTION: Clemson 23, Auburn 20