No. 16 Clemson at No. 12 Georgia

KICKOFF: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET

GAMEDATE: 8/30/14

SITE: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia


SERIES: Georgia leads series 41-18-4, but Clemson won last year 38-35. This is the second straight year the Tigers and Bulldogs have opened the season as ranked teams and the fifth time they have clashed as top 20 teams. They are 2-2 in such meetings.


Clemson-Georgia sizes up as an intriguing battle spearheaded by two fifth-year quarterbacks who are getting their first chance as starters.

The Tigers' Cole Stoudt and the Bulldogs' Hutson Mason obviously provide the storyline for the game, and both head coaches will be anxious to see how their quarterback performs under that pressure.

To his credit, Stoudt -- the son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt -- has appeared cool and steady throughout fall camp n preparing to take over for the productive Tajh Boyd.

"That's Cole -- that's just his demeanor, his personality," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose team is coming off consecutive 11-2 seasons.

"I remember when Tajh got knocked out against Boston College when Cole was a freshman and Cole came in. Here he is a true freshman and we're in a tough ballgame. He just said, 'All right, let's go.' But that's Cole."

Mason's main aim for Georgia will be to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.

Junior tailback Todd Gurley is a Heisman Trophy candidate and junior tailback Keith Marshall is back healthy after tearing his ACL last season.

Seniors Michael Bennett and Chris Conley lead a talented group of wide receivers.

Even without Aaron Murray pulling the trigger, Bennett is confident the Bulldogs will move the ball.

"I don't want to compare to other years, but I still think our offense has the potential to put up crazy numbers and put up a lot of points if we just execute," Bennett said. "We definitely have the talent. So if we just execute like the coaches want us to, I think we'll be all right."

You can expect both defenses to test the quarterbacks at every opportunity. Both teams boast impressive front sevens, so pass protection is likely to be at a premium.



-- QB Cole Stoudt finally gets his chance to be "the guy" to lead Clemson's up-tempo offense after playing behind Tajh Boyd for the last three seasons. He will be the first Clemson quarterback to make his first career start as a senior since Billy Lott in 1979.

-- RB D.J. Howard has 581 career yards rushing, but this season will be his chance to shine as a starter. The 5-11, 205-pound senior will have to stave off challenges from a handful of talented backs, but he has the experience and mettle to emerge from the pack.

--CB Mackensie Alexander could have a big impact for the Tigers, both as a starting cornerback and a punt returner. Just a redshirt freshman, he's an explosive athlete capable of making big plays anywhere on the field.

--WR Charone Peake has been waiting for his turn, which has finally arrived with the early departures of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant to the NFL. Peake is coming off minor knee surgery so he'll bear watching to see if he's fully recovered.