Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher had been ACC coaching rivals for years. Fisher left FSU after last season for Texas A&M and the SEC, yet the schedule-makers are pitting them against each other once again in the Week 2 marquee matchup around college football. ESPN GameDay is in College Station.
Coaching Rivals Begin Next Chapter
Jimbo Fisher shouldn’t expect any housewarming gifts from Clemson’s Dabo Swinney just because he left the ACC for the sacred grounds of the SEC. Since 2010, when Fisher took the helm as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, these two coaches and their respective teams met eight times and earned four wins apiece. Although it should be noted that Dabo and his Tigers won the last three by an average margin of 10 points.
But now the landscape shifts because Fisher abruptly left the Noles in their penultimate game of the 2017 season and took the job at Texas A&M, where only a scheduling fluke would see these two non-conference opponents suit up against each other Saturday. Swinney must be thinking, “How can I miss you when you won’t leave?” because here they are again, staring across the gridiron at each other one more time. Let’s discuss how we envision this Saturday night showdown, broadcast live on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET as we check out the odds from the best online sportsbooks on the planet delivered at a glance only on Sportsbook Review, the sports bettor’s bible.
Statement Game for the Aggies
Fisher made certain his new charges were ready for battle and completely aware that taking even lightly-regarded Northwestern State for granted could pose a problem moving forward. Texas A&M gave the Demons hell and when the dust settled, Fisher had notched a win in his coaching debut for the Aggies by the score of 59-7. It wasn’t much different for the powerhouse Tigers in their opener as they too faced an FCS school in the form of the Furman Paladins. Dabo and his troops topped this cupcake on their schedule 48-7 and immediately prepared for their trip to College Station.
The Tigers have a bit of a quarterback controversy looming as incumbent senior starter Kelly Bryant was 9-of-15 for 137 yards and one passing TD as well as a 35-yard scamper into the end zone. Mega-touted true freshman Trevor Lawrence had three passing touchdowns as he played the entire second quarter and split time with Bryant in the second half. As of this moment, it looks like a quarterback by committee approach until one of the two seizes the job.
The Aggies also employed more than one QB against their outmatched opponent with sophomore Kellen Mond getting the lion’s share of the playing time and throwing for 184 yards on 17-of-25 passing with two TD tosses. But the story of the Aggies’ opener was not the aerial performances but rather the stellar rushing of junior tailback Trayveon Williams. The 5’9” scatback tallied 240 yards rushing on 20 carries and found the end zone on three occasions. He will find that daylight won’t be nearly as plentiful against a Clemson squad that boasts four potential first-round draft picks on the defensive line.
This will be an interesting test for sure as Fisher knows all too well how potent the Tigers are and will do his best to prepare his offense for a swarming Clemson pass rush. Texas A&M is 4-0 against the spread in their last four non-conference games while Clemson is 8-2 ATS over their 10 non-con matchups. A quick look over at Sportsbook Review tells us that the best online sportsbooks are dealing Clemson as anywhere between 12-13-point road favorites depending on where you shop for lines.
Only one of Dabo’s four wins against Jimbo was by greater than 10 points, and for that matter only two of the eight meetings between these coaches have been decided by more than 12 points. Let’s watch that trend continue as we believe that the Aggies are getting enough of a head start to hang with the Tigers and who knows – maybe there’s an upset in the offing?!