Virginia comes to Death Valley this weekend a different team than what the Tigers saw last year in Charlotte. Gone is second team All-ACC quarterback Bryce Perkins, who accounted for most of the Cavaliers offensive production in 2019.
In his place is sophomore Brennan Armstrong who will be making just his second career start when the Cavs visit Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Armstrong was solid last weekend against Duke, throwing for 269 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns that really helped Virginia pull away in the 38-20 win.
He also has some solid receivers to work with, and a couple of them are big 6-foot-7 targets that could pose some potential matchup issues with a Clemson secondary that has had some issues in coverage over the first two weeks. One of those is senior tight end Tony Poljan, meaning Mike Jones Jr might have his hands full this weekend.
However, football games are generally won on the line of scrimmage and that is where this one will be won. Virginia’s defense was dominant last weekend, forcing seven turnovers in the process. Clemson is not Duke though and the Tigers offense has pretty much moved the ball at will so far.
At the same time, Virginia isn’t Wake Forest or Citadel either and will provide the Tigers with more of a challenge this weekend. With Clemson starting a stretch of six consecutive games against ACC opponents, this game is probably coming at the right time, especially considering the fact that top ten Miami is up next.
The Tigers are huge favorites for a reason, although the spread does feel a little high at 28. Make no mistake, Clemson is going to win the game. It just might not be as one sided as some think.
Virginia is well coached. They play fundamentally sound football and they generally do not beat themselves. They are capable of hanging around for a little while in this game. Whether they do or not will come down to how well they pass protect.
They do return one of the more experienced offensive lines in the ACC, but this week are faced with having to slow down one the leagues best pass rushes. They will eventually start to wear down against a deep Clemson defensive front. A sophomore quarterback under constant pressure in just his second start? Not the recipe for success against the nations top ranked team.
The Cavs will hang around for a little while and guys like Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne could be on the field a little longer in this one. But the Tigers eventually start to pull away. They do not cover though.
Clemson 38 Virginia 13
We always like to ask for some of our readers predictions over in our Facebook group and then share a few of them here. Since we started this, not once have the Tigers been picked to lose, and that remains the case this week.
Scotty Smith 34-20
Bill Williams 38-10
Eddie Gregory 49-17
Crystal Dearring 28-14
Joey Rogers 42-10
Stephen Arendale 49-13
Corey Wilson 34-27
Chase Player 42-3
James Neal 44-10
Robert Rambow 45-7