THINKING ABOUT THE POSTSEASON: When the bowl invitations are handed out come season's end, it's hard to imagine this game not having major ramifications in the ACC's allotment.
Georgia Tech stands at 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. With a winnable home date with Wake Forest Nov. 5 followed by road games with Virginia and Miami and season-finale with Georgia, the Yellow Jackets need this game to all but secure bowl eligibility.
So does Clemson.
With remaining home games against Duke and Florida State and the season finale at South Carolina, the Tigers (4-3, 2-3) would likely finish bowl elgibile for the seventh straight season under head coach Tommy Bowden with a win Saturday.
GAME NOTES: While this game was originally slated for noon local time, the effects of Hurricane Wilma have moved the kickoff to 3:30 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Georgia Tech ended a three-game losing streak to Clemson by scoring two touchdowns in the last two minutes for the 28-24 win last season in Death Valley. Over the last 16 games between these two rivals, each have won eight with 12 having been decided by five points or less.
This game could well be decided in what Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst does with a Georgia Tech defense that is ranked second in the nation with 14 interceptions this season. And as with any Yellow Jackets contest, expect WR Calvin Johnson (ACC-leading 5.3 receptions and 96.8 yards per game) and RB P.J. Daniels (600 yards from scrimmage) to draw the majority of the opposing defense's attention.
One other note is that both teams rank among the nation's elite in turnover margin, with Tech at No. 8 (1.17) and Clemson just percentage points behind in 11th place.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Yellow Jackets have a fairly balanced attack, averaging 154 yards a game rushing and 206 passing. They have depth at running back in P.J. Daniels, a former walk-on who has risen to be on the ACC's top backs, and Tashard Choice, not to mention and an outstanding receiver in WR Calvin Johnson. QB Reggie Ball, however, has thrown five interceptions his last three games and is under 50 percent on his completions (89-of-188) on the year.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE:
The Jackets have managed to put together a solid unit despite the loss of DE Travis Parker because of academics before the season began and the injury to DE Eric Henderson that has sidelined him the last four games. They are holding opponents to just 96 yards a game on the ground and have 12 interceptions and 16 sacks on the season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Calvin Johnson -- The sophomore is one of the premier receivers in the country with 32 catches for this season, including four for touchdowns. At 6-4, he towers over most defensive backs. TB P.J. Daniels -- The extra week should help him recover from the shoulder injury that kept him on the bench for most of the game against Duke. He is averaging 82 yards a game rushing. LB KaMichael Hall -- He is the team's second-leading tackler overall but leads in tackles for loss with seven among his 44 stops, including two sacks. He also has an interception. LB Philip Wheeler -- The sophomore leads the Jackets, who have 12 interceptions as a team, with four picks.
TECH ROSTER REPORT: Quarterback Reggie Ball (hip), running back P.J. Daniels (shoulder), defensive lineman Joe Anoai (ankle), punt returner Pat Clark (abdomen) and defensive backs Jamal Lewis (undisclosed) and Djay Jones (leg) are probable against Clemson. Running back Reuben Houston (personal) and defensive linemen Darryl Richard (knee) and Travis Parker (eligibility) are expected to miss the entire season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We practice tackling every day, and we try to get better at it every day. Take the extra step when you get there and little things like that. There's not much you can do now with contact limited in practice until the end of the season. We've just got to concentrate more on the back end." -- Senior CB Dennis Davis on how the team has to improve its tackling.
Closer Look: Georgia Tech
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