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Postcard from Death Valley: Three keys for Clemson vs. Auburn

September 9, 2017

CLEMSON – Tigers vs. Tigers is always a matchup in search of star power.

Cam Newton one time (2010), Sammy Watkins the next (2011).

Allowing for breakout individual performances on the big-time stage Saturday night, here are three keys for No. 3 Clemson against No. 13 Auburn:

- More Venables: This is where defensive coordinator Brent Venables broke in with Clemson, against Auburn in the 2012 season opener at the Georgia Dome. Clemson won that game, 26-19, and won the opener last year at Auburn, 19-13. And Venables has become the gold standard among college defensive coordinators. But this Jarrett Stidham-led team projects as the best Auburn offense Venables has faced.

- A bear Bryant: Clemson first-year starting quarterback Kelly Bryant did some nice things last week in a 56-3 romp over Kent State. He showed good reads and touch but former Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is sure to test Bryant with odd blitzes and a seasoned secondary. Bryant must do just enough to keep Auburn defenders gasping late.

- Flip the field: Only the second time out for Clemson redshirt freshman Will Spiers but he might have to come up with a booming punt or two. Clemson’s return game probably will have to help Bryant and Co. out.

Prediction

Clemson 27, Auburn 24

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff