LOCATION: Memorial Stadium (77,381)
RADIO: 104.9 WCCP FM
SPREAD: Texas A&M is favored by 1.5 points over Clemson.
THE COACHES: Both coaches, Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione and Clemson's Tommy Bowden rank among the top 10 winningest active coaches in Division I football. Bowden has a 62-33 record for a .653 winning percentage, the 10th best percentage among active coaches, while Franchione stands at 166-86-2 for a .657 percent, the ninth best percentage.
SERIES: Texas A&M holds a 3-0 advantage in the series against Clemson. The two teams met last year in College Station and the Aggies came away with a 27-6 victory. Texas A&M first played Clemson in 1973, a 30-15 A&M win behind a 204-yard rushing performance from Bubba Bean. The following year Texas A&M shut out Clemson 24-0 behind defensive All-American Ed Simonini.
FORECAST: Temperatures are expected to be in the upper-80's for most of Saturday under clear skies. Winds will be out of the NNE at 5 to 10 mph.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's few, if any, people playing tougher games than we are this first weekend. It's probably not the way I would like it designed." -- Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione on playing at Clemson to open the 2005 season.
* Donations Accepted Saturday
* Coin Toss Live from Baghdad
* Whitehurst Ready to Rebound
* First Order of Business: Stopping McNeal
* Young Defense Will be Tested
* Tight Ends Ready for Increased Role
* Charles Bennett Audio
* Tye Hill Audio
* Jamaal Fudge Audio
* Billie Poised for Breakout Campaign
* Williamson Update; Tues Practice Notes
* Williamson Hurt
* Texas A&M - Clemson Depth Chart
* Texas A&M - Clemson Game Notes
* What We are Hearing...
* Tommy Bowden's Tuesday Press Conference
* Monday Tommy Bowden Comments
WHAT TO WATCH:
The Ground Game: The Tigers have have witnessed a steady decline in their ability to run the football since the departure of QB Woody Dantzler after the 2001 season. Can it be turned around under new offensive coordinator Rob Spence? Spence will keep his game plan simple Saturday night, relying on just a handful of basic plays that can utilized in multiple formations. He'll also use a running back by committee approach, meaning Reggie Merriweather, Duane Coleman, Kyle Browning and freshman James Davis will all likely see the field at some point.
Turnovers: Clemson finished the 2004 season ranked 100th out of 117 Division I-A schools in turnover margin. Through the three official scrimmages of fall practice, the Tigers' offense committed just one turnover. Will it translate over to the regular season? We'll find out Saturday.
Reggie McNeal: McNeal's dual-threat ability is real. Last year, he had 17 carries for 129 yards against Clemson in the Aggies 27-6 win in College Station. He also was 14-of-26 passing for another 178 yards. To put that in perspective, he alone had 307 yards of total offense. As a team, Clemson compiled just 250 yards. Chances are, he'll get his fair share of big plays Saturday night. Clemson just can't let those big plays turn into touchdowns.
Youth: As many as 10 true freshmen have the potential to play Saturday. RB James Davis, LB Antonio Clay, LB Josh Miller, CB Haydrian Lewis, DE Phillip Merling, DT Jacquez McKissic, WR Tyler Grisham, and WR Rendrick Taylor all have a realistic chance to see the field. They are talented ... true, but how will so many young players respond during a nationally televised game in primetime? In addition, several redshirt freshmen will also likely play.B Chris Clemons, S Mike Hamlin and WR Aaron Kelly are all currently listed on the two-deep depth chart.
The Defensive Line: Clemson Head coach Tommy Bowden is concerned about his defensive line matching up against an offensive line that averages over 317 pounds per player. By comparison, Clemson's defensive interior will rotate players that average around 275 pounds. With such a difference in size, can the Tigers smaller defensive front keep the Aggies' ground game in check?
QB Reggie McNeal
S Jaxson Appel
Head coach Dennis Franchione
DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-Game show will be broadcasting Saturday afternoon from 2 to 5 PM live from the Lawn at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM for all the pre-game coverage you can handle.