No. 1-ranked Clemson plays at home for the first time this season with The Citadel making the short trip west from Charleston, South Carolina, to be the Tigers' lone nonconference foe in this pandemic-impacted season with a limited number of spectators in attendance. The Citadel is playing a reduced schedule with only four games this fall since the Southern Conference decided to postpone league play and many FCS programs also elected not to play. 

The Bulldogs lost 27-6 at South Florida last week, play the Tigers this week and at Army on Oct. 10. In between is a meeting against one of the other FCS teams in action, Eastern Kentucky, on Sept. 26. 

Clemson won its ACC opener handily, cruising to a 37-13 victory at Wake Forest. On a day where several teams played with the kind of disorganization you'd expect given the limited spring, offseason and preseason workouts, the Tigers stood out for their crisp execution of the game plan. After a 29-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of LSU in January, Clemson's response was a focused effort that affirmed its place atop of the rankings to start the 2020 season. 


Clemson: Who will make the most of their expanded opportunity in what is expected to be a game with plenty of snaps for the second- and third-stringers? The season-opening win at Wake Forest had veterans leading the way on offense, as junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence was connecting most often with senior wide receiver Amari Rodgers and junior tight end Braden Galloway, while senior running back Travis Etienne had another ho-hum 100-yard performance. But since we expect to see less of them after halftime, how will freshman quarterback DJ Uiagalelei fair with some of the talented young receivers? We saw back-up running back Darrien Rencher get some significant snaps against Wake Forest, but will the rotation make its way to former five-star freshman Demarkcus Bowman? Defensively, the freshmen made their mark early with Myles Murphy having one of the best games of any defensive lineman and former No. 1 overall prospect Bryan Bresee logging a sack in the win. They're facing a bit of a different challenge going up against the option offense of The Citadel, where the big hope is that all the defensive linemen come out of the game healthy. 

The Citadel: Can this offense sustain drives? There is a massive athleticism gap that will be tough to close when Clemson is on offense, but the misdirection and reliance on execution in an option offense allows a team like The Citadel to take some control back in the contest. Every first down is another set of downs preventing Clemson's offense from taking the field and any long drives help keep this game a little bit closer than it might be otherwise. Against USF, the Bulldogs were able to string together two 10-play scoring drives to have the game at 7-6 early in the second quarter. The defense did hold its own against the Bulls in the loss, but we're talking about a big upgrade in opponent here with Clemson and long, sustained drives by the offense might be one of the best forms of defense.   

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 19 | Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Memorial Stadium -- Clemson, South Carolina
TV: ACC Network | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Game prediction, picks

It's tough to use last week's result against USF as a data point for comparison considering where the Bulls are in Year One with Jeff Scott and where Clemson with nearly a decade of ACC dominance under Dabo Swinney. But the fact that The Citadel had its option offense rolling in the first half gives me enough belief in the Bulldogs being able to find a way to cover this number. The most important thing to everyone involved in this contest is that no one gets hurt, so look for a very generous approach to clock management in the second half of a 49-6 Clemson win.  Pick: The Citadel (+45.5)

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