‘Weird, wild stuff'

There's a terrific old "Saturday Night Live" skit featuring Dana Carvey (look him up youngsters) doing a wonderful impersonation of Johnny Carson (might as well look him up, too).

Carvey, as he usually did, went over the top with his impersonation, and that's what made him funny. The skit involves Carvey saying over and over, "That's weird, wild stuff."

He might as well have been describing the Clemson-Georgia Tech series through the years.

This year is no different. Who knows what will happen once the game kicks off, but even before it starts, it has a different feel to it. Playing on Thursday night at home is a rarity for Clemson, and that's a good thing. The campus really just isn't set up for that. It has to happen every so often, for sure, because of the ACC's TV deal, but it's not something that most Clemson fans look forward to.

For many years, the game with Georgia Tech is something Clemson fans certainly haven't looked forward to.

The Yellow Jackets lead the all-time series 50-26-2, although Clemson leads 11-6 in home games in the series.

After Clemson won the first four meetings, Georgia Tech dominated, winning 32 of the next 39 meetings with one tie. Once things got to the late 1970s, the series was much more even with the two programs splitting the past 32 meetings right down the middle. Each has had runs of success with Clemson going on a 10-5 run from 1977 to 1996. That was followed by four straight wins for Georgia Tech, three straight for Clemson and then a 6-1 run for Georgia Tech.

Clemson has won two of the past three games, and there have been many, many memorable games in this series. That includes six straight games decided by exactly three points from 1996-2001. The 2001 game is one of the most exciting I've covered in my career. The two went back and forth and then back again before Clemson got the ball, trailing 38-34 with about two minutes left.

Facing fourth-and-13, Woody Dantzler improvised and found J.J. McKelvey behind the Yellow Jackets' defense for a 63-yard touchdown strike for a Clemson lead with 1:58 left. That sent ABC broadcaster Sean McDonough into a frenzy. "Dantzler throwing it deep. Has a man open! My goodness! McKelvey! Touchdown!"

It sends chills up your spine every time you watch the clip.

Georgia Tech fought back and tied the game, forcing overtime and setting up more heroics for Dantzler.

After the Yellow Jackets settled for a field goal, Dantzler went to work. He just missed a touchdown pass to McKelvey before doing things on his own on third down, going right up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run and the win.

"Dantzler, keeps it. Dantzler, touchdown! Clemson wins!"

More chills. It was the ultimate Dantzler game and ultimate Dantzler win. McDonough called it "pulsating," and it certainly was.

Not quite as exciting but an even bigger game came in 1991 when Clemson fought and clawed its way to a 9-7 win. That victory wasn't secured into Scott Sisson missed a field goal in the closing seconds, and the Tigers eventually won the ACC title.

There have been other memorable games that haven't gone Clemson's way.

In 2000, Kerry Watkins broke the Tigers' hearts with a touchdown catch with less than 10 seconds remaining, and then Calvin Johnson did the same in 2004.

That game was especially disturbing because the Tigers gave it away when they couldn't execute a punt, and the Yellow Jackets got the ball at Clemson's 11 with less than 30 seconds left. Everyone in the stadium knew the ball was going to Johnson, but the Tigers' defense couldn't do anything about it.

It was the kind of stunning loss that became all too familiar during the Tommy Bowden era.

In 2006, the Tigers and Yellow Jackets were both ranked in the top 15, and Georgia Tech again had Calvin Johnson. This time, however, James Davis and C.J. Spiller dominated offensively, and the Tigers' defense held Johnson without a catch. The game marked the first time ESPN's "College Gameday" had been broadcast at Clemson's campus.

Then the Yellow Jackets won four times in three years, beating Clemson twice in 2009, the second time coming in the ACC championship game.

And two years ago, Georgia Tech shocked the Tigers in October, handing them their first loss after an 8-0 start.

Last year, the Yellow Jackets put up a fight and had the lead early in the fourth quarter before the Tigers took control and pulled away. It was the kind of aggravating and annoying game the Yellow Jackets have put the Tigers though many times.

Win or lose, Georgia Tech always seems to give Clemson a hard time.

The Yellow Jackets' next chance to do so is Thursday. If Clemson isn't sharp and ready to play, it will once again have its hands full. But this isn't Bowden's Clemson program. Dabo Swinney's program has done a good job of handling these kinds of games and likely will again Thursday night.

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., and co-host of The Morning Show on FoxSports 1670 AM. Follow him on Twitter at @DM_Shirley and read his blog at macon.com/peachsports.

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