CLEMSON, S.C.—Greetings from Death Valley (not the one in Baton Rouge) for a game that has just a little build-up.
Both Georgia and Clemson have been pointing to this matchup for months. College GameDay did their four-hour pregame show on campus here.
Ticket demand, as you might expect is through the roof.
The average ticket price on the secondary market is $288.64, according to SeatGeek. That’s the most expensive this weekend topping LSU-TCU ($223.67).
“It will probably one of the best environments to play a college football game that I’ve had in my career,” Georgia senior offensive guard Dallas Lee said. “It will be a lot of fun. Pretty much everyone will be watching being in that 8 o’clock spot, plus both of us being so good. It will be a lot of fun.”
Right now, more than four hours before kickoff, there’s some light rain in the area.
A lighting warning signal went off at 3:07 p.m. here. Let’s hope there’s none of that tonight. Looks like there’s a 30 percent chance of storms around 10 p.m. according to The Weather Channel.
We’ve got plenty of stuff to share with you leading up to the kickoff. Check back early and often.
–We’ll find out tonight if kicker Marshall Morgan is suspended–as long expected–after pleading guilty for boating under the influence for his arrest in late June. Morgan reportedly made the trip, but that doesn’t mean he will play.
Mark Richt hasn’t confirmed or denied Morgan is suspended. A player who is suspended if able to travel with the team and dress out. That’s what safety Bacarri Rambo did in 2011 for Georgia’s game in Atlanta against Boise State.
–Wonder if Georgia coaches will bring this up.
“Georgia’s overrated,” ESPN’s Lee Corso said. “I don’t think they deserve to be a top five team.”
Corso pointed to the defense last season. He still picked Georgia.
– Freshman outside linebacker Davin Bellamy tweeted out he’s not traveling with the team. He had shoulder surgery in February and underwent hand surgery this preaseason.
–Sounds like former Georgia defensive end Charles Johnson will be making the drive from Charlotte for this game. “My first game since I left Ga 7 years ago #superexcited,” he tweeted.
–There are expected to be 22 NFL scouts here tonight, according to Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret. That’s the most ever for a game at Clemson. The previous mark was 18 for a game in 2010.
–This is the first game between the border schools since 2003. It was a heated rivalry in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“I grew up watching Herschel Walker,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’m from the 80s. That was a heyday for me. I remember all those great games and I followed Clemson for Danny Ford.”
–As indicated earlier, Morgan is on the Georgia roster handed out to media on the flip card in the press box. Suspended safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is not. (Update: Harvey-Clemons actually is here. Walking on field pregame, but still not playing).
Looks like based on this roster, that the following freshmen aren’t dressing tonight: tailback Brendan Douglas (knee), receiver Uriah LeMay, defensive tackle De’Andre Johnson and offensive lineman Aulden Bynum. And as Bellamy tweeted, he’s also not here.
Reserve quarterback Faton Bauta also isn’t listed (Update: It’s wrong. Looks like he’s here).
Interesting that Jonathon Rumph and Corey Moore, who are out, are still listed.
Missed this earlier, but freshman linebacker Shaun McGee also isn’t here.
–Georgia is gearing up to stop a Clemson offense that tries to get 82 plays a game.
They go real fast and our offense has been given us a great look so we’re just preparing, running to the ball, trying to get in the best shape, doing all the little things,” inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said. “Yeah, they do go real fast but we’re going to be ready.”
The Tigers hit 100 plays against LSU last seasn
“It’s something we’ve got to get used to,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a lot of teams like that on our schedule. Personally, I like teams like this because we’re an athletic team and we like to run. We’re just going to get after it.”
–Got the official travel roster now. Yes, Morgan is on there. Receiver Blake Tibbs is not. Neither are Outside linebacker Chase Vasser and tailback A.J. Turman.
–Defensive lineman John Atkins and cornerback Kennar Johnson aren’t on the trip. Both appear to have not been in the rotation plans.
–Georgia’s kickers are warming up, but I haven’t spotted Morgan out there. Adam Erickson and Patrick Beless are among those kicking field goals in pregame. Update: Now I do see Morgan. He’s out there, but hasn’t done too much.
—-Georgia was fourth in the SEC last year in passing and fourth in rushing.
It’s that kind of balance that had Swinney saying this about his biggest concern for going up against Georgia’s offense.
“All of it,” Swinney said. “They really have the ability to throw it 50 times or run it 50 times. That’s what makes them so good offensively. This is a very balanced attack.”
He points to 37 passing touchdowns and 32 rushing touchdowns.
“They’re capable of beating you either way,” Swinney said. “Obviously, you’ve got to take something away. You can’t just let them have their way out night, but of course that’s easier said or done.”
–Just back from the field. Fans are still filing into their seats. Place is packed in the entryway to get to seats.
–Morgan was announced as Georgia’s starting kicker but that doesn’t mean much. Erickson or Beless is probably the guy.
–I tweeted out a photo of Kolton Houston when the team stretched on the field in pregame.
“It’s a big day for him,” center David Andrews said. “I can’t imagine the first time he’s been able to play college football. I remember my first game. I know it’s going to be a neat experience for him. It’s going to be tough playing your first game in that environment, but he’s got a great supporting staff with us. I know he’s going to be ready to go.”
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer