- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

No. 5 Clemson (3-0, 0-0 ACC) at Georgia Tech (3-0, 1-0), 7:30 p.m. Thursday (ESPN).

Line: Clemson by 9 1/2.

Series Record: Georgia leads 50-28-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Clemson can’t afford a slip-up against Georgia Tech with a showdown looming the next week against No. 3 Louisville. The Tigers didn’t look all that impressive in tight victories over Auburn and Troy, so it’s time to start living up to their preseason hype. The Yellow Jackets are off to an unbeaten start, but this is a huge step up in competition over their first three games. There are still doubts about this team after a 3-9 record a year ago.

KEY MATCHUP

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson vs. Georgia Tech’s defense. The Yellow Jackets rank among the national defensive leaders, having surrendered just 10.3 points a game. Of course, they haven’t faced anyone close to Watson, who is not only an extremely accurate passer but can extend plays with his mobility. Plus, he’s got weapons all around him, from RB Wayne Gallman to a deep group of receivers.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Clemson: LB Ben Boulware. After missing last week’s game with an ankle injury, Boulware returns to lead the Clemson defense. He’ll be a key player when it comes to containing Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.

Georgia Tech: QB Justin Thomas. He is the team’s top rusher and averaging 6.0 yards per carry, but he’ll likely have to be more effective in the passing game to loosen up the Tigers’ defense. Thomas has completed 50 percent of his throws for 335 yards and one TD.

FACTS & FIGURES

Georgia Tech has won five straight games in the series at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Clemson last road win was in 2003. … Clemson will be without WR Hunter Renfrow, who will miss about a month with a broken hand. … The Tigers are averaging about 80 plays a game, compared to 61 for Georgia Tech’s run-oriented, time-consuming scheme. … The Yellow Jackets are giving up 10.3 points per game to rank seventh nationally. … For the first since 2001, Georgia Tech has surrendered 14 points or less in its first three games. … Clemson coach Dabo Swinney will be going for his 50th ACC win. He has a mark of 49-15 in conference play, putting him in position to become just the eighth coach in ACC history to reach that milestone. The others are Bobby Bowden (118), George Welsh (85), Frank Beamer (72), Frank Howard (66), Earle Edwards (55), Bill Murray (54) and Bill Dooley (52).

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