- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2016

No. 2 Clemson (14-1 last season) at Auburn (7-6), 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Clemson by 7-1/2.

Series Record: Auburn leads 34-13-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Clemson is hoping to mount another run to the national title game - and win this time. It could also be the first notch in QB Deshaun Watson’s Heisman Trophy campaign. Auburn is trying to rebound from a disappointing season that may have left coach Gus Malzahn needing improvement to secure his job.

KEY MATCHUP

Auburn’s defense vs. Watson. Watson racked up 478 yards of total offense in the national championship game against Alabama and is major college football’s first single-season 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher. He’ll face a defense that figures to be improved with a deep, talented front line led by DE Carl Lawson and DT Montravius Adams. Freshman Marlon Davidson is slated to start opposite Lawson. FS Stephen Roberts is suspended.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Clemson: RB Wayne Gallman returns after setting a Clemson record with 1,527 rushing yards. Auburn was 11th in the SEC against the run last season.

Auburn: QB Sean White won a three-man competition for the starting job and will have to find ways to keep up with Clemson’s high-powered offense. White threw only one touchdown pass last season and his supporting cast includes an unproven group at both receiver and tailback.

FACTS & FIGURES

Clemson matches the 1952 Maryland team as the highest ranking nonconference opponent Auburn has faced in the regular season. That was also an opening game. Auburn hasn’t beaten a nonconference regular season opponent ranked higher than No. 4 Florida State in 1985. … Clemson has won the past two meetings after dropping 14 straight. … Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele held the same post at Clemson from 2009-11. … Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has won six games over SEC opponents over the past five years, the most of any coach from another league.

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AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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