Matt Connolly

Connolly’s prediction: Clemson will be tested by Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies

Clemson has a relatively easy schedule in 2018 with No. 24 South Carolina being the only team currently ranked remaining on the Tigers’ schedule.

Perhaps Clemson’s biggest test of the season until then will come Saturday when the Tigers face Texas A&M on the road.

The Aggies recruited well under former head coach Kevin Sumlin, and with Jimbo Fisher now in College Station there is optimism that the program will be headed back in the right direction soon.

Fisher has an opportunity to show that the Aggies are well ahead of schedule, and he can earn a signature win in Year 1 with an upset of No. 2 Clemson this weekend.

Texas A&M has put together a top 20 recruiting class each of the past five years, finishing as high as No. 5 in 2014.

The Aggies have an average finish of No. 13 in the recruiting rankings dating back to 2014. Clemson’s average ranking is 12.

“They’ve got more four and five stars on their roster than we have over the last four years or so,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said earlier this week.

While the talent in recruiting rankings is close, the experience and chemistry that Clemson possesses will pay dividends on Saturday.

This is Swinney’s most veteran and deep team, and defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant came back to school for games like Saturday’s.

Clemson’s defensive front four will show up and the offense will make enough plays in a tough environment to get a win.

Texas A&M has a talented offense, led by quarterback Kellen Mond, running back Trayveon Williams, receiver Jhamon Ausbon and tight end Jace Sternberger.

That group will challenge Clemson’s defense, particularly its inexperienced secondary. But it will not be enough.

Expect Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence to both play well and get the ball into the hands of Clemson’s gifted group of playmakers.

Prediction: Clemson 27, Texas A&M 20

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

  Comments