NOTES: Tigers host Tar Heels

Clemson holds a 35-19-1 lead in the series with North Carolina that dates to 1897, the second year of Clemson football.

The 1897 game was just the sixth game in Clemson football history and the Tar Heels won that game 28-0. It was the first game for the Tigers against a team that is now in the ACC.

•Clemson has won six of the last eight meetings dating to the 1999 season, Tommy Bowden’s first year. This will be the third game for the Tigers against the Tar Heels since Dabo Swinney became head coach. In 2010 North Carolina won 21-16 in Chapel Hill, Clemson’s only appearance in Chapel Hill between 2003 and 2019.

•This will be North Carolina’s last appearance at Clemson until 2024 according to the way the ACC schedule is at the moment. The Tigers and Tar Heels will not play again after this year until 2019 in a game in Chapel Hill. Between 2015 and 2023, Clemson will play non- conference games with Notre Dame four times, but North Carolina just once.

•Clemson has scored at least 50 points in each of its last two games against North Carolina in Memorial Stadium, a 52-7 win in 2006 and a 59-38 victory in 2011. The current Clemson seniors were freshmen for that game. In each of those games Clemson was celebrating an anniversary of the program’s 1981 National Championship.

•Clemson has scored at least 36 points in four of the last five games against North Carolina. Clemson has averaged 41 points per game against the Tar Heels over the last five meetings dating to 2002.

•North Carolina’s last win over Clemson at Clemson came in 2001. The Tigers were ranked 13th in the nation entering the 2001 meeting with the Tar Heels and Woody Dantzler was coming off the best back-to-back performances in Clemson history by a Tiger signal caller.

He had 418 yards total offense in an overtime win against Georgia Tech and 517 in a win at NC State. Over 84,000 Clemson fans attended that Homecoming game in 2001, but Julius Peppers and the North Carolina defense had a plan to stop Dantzler and held him to a season low 127 total yards rushing and passing in a 38-3 North Carolina win. That Tar Heel team went on to defeat Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

•Freshman Charlie Whitehurst threw four touchdown passes in just his second start in a 42-12 Clemson win at North Carolina in 2002. That was the last time a freshman started at quarterback for Clemson against North Carolina. Tye Hill had the only 100-yard rushing day of his career in that victory. The next year Hill moved to defense and became a first round draft choice.

•It is not the only time a freshman has thrown four touchdown passes in a game against North Carolina. Redshirt freshman Willie Simmons came off the bench in 2000 to throw four touchdown passes in Chapel Hill and lead Clemson to a come from behind 38-24 victory. It the most touchdown passes by a non starter Clemson quarterback.

•Clemson has won 19 of the last 26 meetings in the series. The Tigers have a 18-7 lead in games played at Clemson and Death Valley, and a 15-11-1 advantage in games in Chapel Hill, including a 14-10-1 lead in games at Keenan Stadium.

ªThe landmark game of the series took place at North Carolina in 1981. The Tigers won that contest 10-8 behind an outstanding defense led by Jeff Davis and Jeff Bryant. It was the first meeting of top 10 ACC teams in the history of the conference, as Clemson was undefeated and ranked second in the nation entering the contest, while the Tar Heels were 7-1 and ranked eighth.

Jeff Bryant recovered a North Carolina lateral with a minute left to clinch the victory for the Tigers, a key win in Clemson’s National Championship season.

Ron West Returns to Memorial Stadium
North Carolina co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Ron West is a Clemson graduate who was a letterman on the Tigers 1977-78 teams.

He also served as an assistant coach with the Clemson program from 1999- 2008. West was a versatile offensive lineman on the 1977-78 Clemson teams that changed the course of Clemson football. The Clemson program had not been to a bowl game in 18 years prior to the 1977 season, but the 1977 and 1978 Tigers changed all that. Both of those Clemson teams finished in the top 20, including a number- six finish by the 1978 team that is still the second highest final ranking in Clemson history. West came to Clemson as an assistant coach in 1999 with Tommy Bowden. West had been with Bowden at Tulane. West was an offensive line coach from 1999-2003, defensive line coach in 2004 and outside linebackers coach in 2005-08. He was an assistant coach for the Tigers when Clemson defeated North Carolina in 2006 at Clemson.

Since West left Clemson after the 2008 season, he has been an assistant at Tulsa, Illinois, Arizona State and now North Carolina. He is in his second year with the Tar Heels program.

Two Tiger Coaches Worked at UNC
Clemson assistant coaches Dan Brooks and Danny Pearman both worked at North Carolina. Brooks was with the North Carolina program as defensive line coach from 1989-93 working under Mack Brown. The Tar Heels had a 9-3 record in 1992 and 10-3 in 1993, Brooks’s last two years with the Tar Heels. Pearman coached at North Carolina during the 2006 season as special teams coach and defensive ends coach. Pearman returned to Clemson for the 2008 Gator Bowl and has been an assistant under Dabo Swinney for all 77 games Swinney has coached at Clemson. So, in 2006 when North Carolina played Clemson at Memorial Stadium, Ron West was an assistant at Clemson and Danny Pearman was an assistant at North Carolina. Saturday the their schools of employment will be reversed.

North Carolina Update
North Carolina comes into Saturday’s game with a 2-1 record. Larry Fedora’s team is coming off a 70-41 loss at East Carolina. All three games have been against non-conference foes, so this is the ACC opener for the Tar Heels. They have one more non-conference game left at Notre Dame on October 11. North Carolina has an explosive offense that is led by quarterback Marquise Williams. He led North Carolina to a strong finish last year, including a 39-17 bowl victory over Cincinnati. So far this year the junior has completed 53-83 passes for 551 yards and four scores. North Carolina has outstanding receivers, led by Mack Hollins, who has a 30.2 yard average on eight catches. He is second in the ACC in yards per catch and is fourth in receiving yards per game at 80.7. He is just ahead of Clemson’s Artavis Scott.

Ryan Switzer is another outstanding pass catcher, but he is also among the top punt returners in the nation. Switzer is third in the ACC in receptions per game with 16 in his three games. Last year he set an NCAA record with five punt returns for touchdowns. He has 11 returns for 74 yards so far. Austin Proehl is a freshman who will see some action. He is the son of Ricky Proehl, who was a great player for Wake Forest before a 17-year NFL career. He caught four touchdown passes against Clemson in his career that spanned 1986-89.

T.J. Thorpe is another all-purpose player the Tigers will remember. He had a 100- yard kickoff return for a score against Clemson in 2011, a day he had 234 all-purpose yards.

Tigers Have Played Tough Schedule
Clemson is off to a 1-2 start, but has played a difficult schedule. According to the latest Sagarin computer ranking, Clemson has played the most difficult schedule in the country with an 84.38 rating. Rice is second and SMU third in terms of most difficult schedule among FBS schools.

Clemson opened the season with a loss at #12 Georgia and lost last week at #1 ranked Florida State in overtime. Clemson is one of just three schools to play two games against Associated Press top 12 teams so far this year (SMU and West Virginia are the others), and the Tigers are the only school in the nation to play two top 12 teams on the road. How rare is such a difficult start to the schedule? This is the first time since 1966 that Clemson has played two top 12 teams within its first three games of the season and just the fourth time in school history. Frank Howard was well known for taking on all challengers. His 1959, 1963 and 1966 teams all had two road games against top 12 teams within its first three games of the season.

As far as the ACC is concerned, Clemson is the first league school to have two road games against top 12 ranked teams within the first three games of the season since 2001 when North Carolina played at #3 Oklahoma and at #4 Texas within its first three games. That Tar Heels team also played #6 Florida State at home in the fourth game.

Clemson Glad to be Home
Historically and in the Dabo Swinney era, Clemson has had good fortune playing in Memorial Stadium, so the Tigers welcome this upcoming three-game home stand.

The Tigers are 33-6 (.846) at home under Swinney, including a 20-2 mark over the last four years, or since the current senior class came to Clemson. That includes a 13-game winning streak from 2011-12, the longest winning streak in the history of the facility. Clemson has won at least two-thirds of its home games 12 consecutive years.

Overall, Clemson has a home record of 352-125-15 including all home facilities. That includes a 276-101-7 record in the 73 years of Memorial Stadium.

Watson Gets the Start
Deshaun Watson is expected to be Clemson’s starting quarterback against North Carolina. He will be the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Clemson in 20 years. In 1994, Nealon Greene started five games at quarterback as a true freshman, with the last being against South Carolina.

Watson was 19-28 for 266 yards passing and had 12 rushes for 30 yards, giving him 296 yards of total offense against the number- one ranked Seminoles. The 296 yards were the most by a Clemson true freshman quarterback. The previous mark was 288 by Willie Jordan at Georgia Tech in 1975. Watson’s passing yardage was the second most by a Clemson true freshman and the most since Patrick Sapp threw for 273 at Maryland in 1992.

Greene was 2-3 as a starter in 1994, Patrick Sapp was 1-3 in 1992, Willie Jordan was 1-5 in 1975 and Steve Fuller was 0-1. So Clemson true freshmen quarterbacks are a combined 4-12 over the years.

Two of the four wins are against North Carolina. Patrick Sapp defeated a top 20 North Carolina team in 1992, 40-7, and two years later Nealon Greene upset a #12 North Carolina team in Chapel Hill, 28-17. The 40-7 win led by Sapp is the second largest margin of victory for Clemson over a ranked opponent.

So Clemson true freshmen quarterbacks are 2-0 all-time against North Carolina and 2-12 against everyone else.

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