Georgia Tech - Clemson Game Notes

The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech series has been the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 10 years. Nine of the last 10 games have been decided by five points or less, including a six-game streak between 1996-01 in which every game was decided by exactly three points.

The ACC's Most Competitive Series
The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech series has been the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 10 years. Nine of the last 10 games have been decided by five points or less, including a six-game streak between 1996-01 in which every game was decided by exactly three points. That might be a first in college football history. We aren't talking by three points or less, but exactly three points. Georgia Tech was victorious last year in the lowest scoring game in the series in 14 years when Tech won 10-9 in Atlanta. That was Clemson's only loss over the last seven games of the season, and one of only two losses for the Tigers over the last 14 games. Clemson cut the margin to 10-9 on Jad Dean's third field goal of the game with 5:36 left, but the Tigers were hurt by a holding penalty on their last possession.

Georgia Tech has a 45-23-2 lead in the series with Clemson dating to a 23-0 Tiger win in Augusta, GA in 1898, just the 11th game in Clemson football history. In fact, Clemson won the first four games of the series, including games in 1902 and 1903 when John Heisman was at the helm. Clemson defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta 73-0 in 1903 with Heisman as head coach.

Tech has won two in a row in the series, including the last meeting at Clemson in 2004. Tech scored two touchdowns in the last 1:50 to win 28-24. Clemson had taken a 24-14 lead with 3:18 left on a 54-yard run by Kyle Browning. The teams combined for 35 points in the fourth quarter after scoring a combined 17 points in the first three periods.

Here are some other series highlights:

•Clemson won three in a row from 2001-03, including the 2003 game in Atlanta by a 39-3 score. That was Clemson's largest margin of victory in the series since a 73-0 Tiger win in Atlanta in 1903 when Heisman was the Clemson coach and is the only game in the series since 1995 that has not been decided by five points or less.

•The Tigers have an 8-5 advantage in games at Clemson, but Georgia Tech leads 40-13-2 in games played in Atlanta. Every game between the two teams between 1907- 74 era was held in Atlanta. Clemson's only wins in those 36 meetings came in 1907, 1936, 1945 and 1969. The 1969 victory was Frank Howard's final season as head coach.

•The first time Georgia Tech played in Clemson's stadium was 1974, a 21-17 Clemson victory. Clemson won that game on a threeyard touchdown pass from current Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain to All- America tight end Bennie Cunningham with 8:26 left.

•Clemson has a 12-11 advantage in the series, regardless of site, since Tech joined the ACC in 1983. Tech actually joined for the 1979-80 academic year, but did not compete for the football championships, nor play Clemson as an ACC game, until 1983.

•Since Tommy Bowden has been the head coach, the Clemson vs. Georgia Tech games have been high scoring with the exception of last year's game. The point total for the seven games is 213-180 in favor of the Tigers, giving Clemson a 30.4-26 average victory during the time. But, Georgia Tech has the lead 4-3 in the won-loss column.

•Woodrow Dantzler had one of the best all-around games of his career with 164 yards rushing and 254 yards passing in the Clemson victory in 2001. He threw for two scores and ran for two, including a 38-yard "Hail Mary Run" on the last play of the first half to cut Tech's lead to 19-14 at intermission. His 63- yard scoring pass to J.J. McKelvey with 1:58 left put Clemson ahead by three, but Tech tied the count with a 20-yard field goal with just six seconds left. Dantzler's "walk-off" six-yard touchdown in overtime gave Clemson the win.

•Clemson has had just two games in its history in which both teams scored in the 40s. They have both taken place at Georgia Tech under Bowden. Tech won 45-42 in 1999 and Clemson won 47-44 in overtime in 2001 in Atlanta.

•One of the most unusual statistical occurrences in Clemson history took place during Clemson's 33-12 victory over Georgia Tech in 1987 at Clemson. Clemson entered the game with a streak of 999 consecutive combined punt returns and kickoff returns without a touchdown dating to 1970. Then, on the 1000th return, Donnell Woolford raced 78 yards with a punt return for a touchdown. Then, later in the game Joe Henderson returned a kickoff return 95 yards for a touchdown. It is the only game in Clemson history that Clemson has returned a punt for a touchdown and a kickoff for a touchdown.

Last Year vs. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech 10, Clemson 9
Grant Field, Atlanta, GA

Clemson committed four turnovers and a late comeback fell short in a 10-9 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Tigers had not lost a fumble all season a streak that reached 499 consecutive offensive plays, but lost three to the Yellow Jackets in the first half. It was the ninth game in the last 10 meetings between the schools that was decided by five points or less. The Tigers opened the game with an impressive march. Charlie Whitehurst hit Chansi Stuckey for a 21-yard gain down to the Georgia Tech 28, and on the following play, Whitehurst hit Bobby Williamson for 15 yards. Reggie Merriweather gained five yards on the next play before fumbling. It was his first fumble in 238 career carries.

The Yellow Jackets gained only three yards on their first offensive series of the day and punted the ball back to the Tigers. Stuckey fumbled the punt, but a fair-catch interference penalty was called on Georgia Tech, and Clemson began its drive at the Yellow Jacket 42. After a pass to Aaron Kelly was ruled a lateral, but overturned after being reviewed, Whitehurst was pressured and fumbled. Vance Walker recovered for Georgia Tech. Reggie Ball ran for 11 yards on first down, and the Yellow Jackets moved the ball to the Tiger 25. A delay-of-game penalty forced Travis Bell to attempt a 47-yard field goal, and he missed wide left.

The two teams traded punts before Clemson began a drive at its own six. Merriweather carried five consecutive times for 50 yards to open the drive. Kyle Browning picked up where his teammate left off and gained 21 more yards. Two plays later, Whitehurst hit Thomas Hunter for a 22-yard touchdown pass, but Clemson had only 10 men on the field and was penalized for an illegal formation. The drive ended with Jad Dean missing a 43-yard attempt wide right.

Reggie Ball threw deep for Calvin Johnson on the next Georgia Tech possession, but freshman Michael Hamlin intercepted the pass and returned it 31 yards for his first career theft.

Clemson advanced the ball to the Yellow Jacket 19, but could get no closer. This time, Dean's kick was good from 36 yards out. Georgia Tech punted after three plays on its next drive, and the Tigers had an opportunity to increase their lead before halftime. However, Whitehurst was hit from behind and fumbled again, giving Georgia Tech the ball at the Clemson 34.

The Yellow Jackets moved the ball to the Clemson 11 with 0:09 left in the half. Ball took one more shot at the endzone, but his receivers were covered and he threw the ball into the stands. Bell hit a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the half to tie the score 3-3. It was his first successful field goal after six consecutive misses.

The Yellow Jackets threatened in the third period, moving the ball to the Clemson 17. On a third-down play, Ball scrambled inside the Tiger 10, but Jamaal Fudge hit Ball and forced a fumble that was recovered by Sergio Gilliam.

The two teams traded punts before Clemson began a drive with 0:14 to play in the third quarter at its own 26. The Tigers moved 49 yards on nine plays and could not get closer than the Yellow Jacket 25. Dean's 42-yard field goal glanced off of the right upright and went through to give Clemson a 6-3 lead.

Georgia Tech wasted little time answering the Clemson score. Ball hit Johnson for 21 yards on the first play of the drive, and Tashard Choice followed with a 32-yard run. P.J. Daniels had a 16-yard run, and three plays later scored from three yards out to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the day by a score of 10-6.

Aaron Kelly returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to the Georgia Tech 17. It was his first career kickoff return. Merriweather gained 11 yards on first down, but Clemson could not get the ball into the endzone. Dean then drilled his third field goal, a 21-yarder to cut the Georgia Tech lead to 10-9.

The Tigers forced Georgia Tech to a three-and-out on its next drive, and Clemson got the ball back with 3:30 left at its own 48. A firstdown pass to Curtis Baham gained 11 yards, but a holding call on the next play backed the Tigers up. Three plays gained 13 yards, and a fourthdown pass to Baham was completed short of the first-down marker, as the Yellow Jackets took over on downs.

Clemson had used all of its timeouts, and Georgia Tech was nearly able to run off the remaining 2:05 off the clock. The Tigers got the ball back with 0:03 left after a punt, but Whitehurst's desperation pass was intercepted by Dawan Landry at the Georgia Tech three-yard line. Merriweather gained 128 yards on 23 carries, his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game and still his career high in yardage. Whitehurst completed 19 of 29 passes for 180 yards, with Stuckey catching eight of those passes for 89 yards. Nick Watkins led the Tiger defense with a career high 14 tackles, while Fudge added 10 stops.

Clemson Veterans vs. Georgia Tech
*Gaines Adams (BAN)—Had four tackles, including a sack in the 2004 game at Clemson. Had four tackles, including a tackle for loss and four quarterback pressures at Georgia Tech in 2005.

*Nathan Bennett (OG)—Graded 84 percent, his second best film grade of the year at Georgia Tech in 2005 and had 8.5 knockdown blocks.

*Cole Chason (P)—Had a 44.3 average on six punts in 2003 at Georgia Tech, the second best average of his career given a minimum of four punts. Had a 41.2 average as a sophomore in the game at Clemson in 2004. Had a 36.7 average on three punts in last year's game in Atlanta. Has a 41.5 average on 15 punts for his career against the Yellow Jackets.

*Donnell Clark (DT)—Played eight plays in Clemson's win at Georgia Tech in 2003. Had season high three tackles in a career high 37 plays in 2004 game at Clemson. Did not play last year as he had suffered a torn ACL the week before against Temple.

*Duane Coleman (CB)—Had 13 rushes for 86 yards and a touchdown as a running back in Clemson's 39-3 win at Tech in 2003. Did not play in the 2004 game due to injury. Played five snaps as a reserve defensive back in last year's game.

*James Davis (RB )—Played just one snap and had just one carry for one yard in last year's game. He had suffered a broken wrist against NC State two weeks previous to that game.

*Jad Dean (PK )—Did not attempt a kick in the 2003 or 2004 games. Made three field goals in four attempts in last year's game and scored all nine points for the Tigers.

*Marion Dukes (OG)—Played 15 snaps as a reserve in 2003 and graded 79 percent. Played team high 74 snaps as a starter in 2004 game and led the team in knockdown blocks with eight. Started the 2005 game at Tech and had a team best 85 percent.

*Dustin Fry (C)— Started and had a career high 94 percent blocking grade and 8.5 knockdown blocks at Georgia Tech in 2005.

*Roman Fry (OG)—Had 86 percent grade and 13.5 knockdown blocks to lead the team at Georgia Tech last year.

*C.J. Gaddis (CB )—Played 19 plays and had two tackles in 2005 game at Tech.

*Sergio Gilliam (CB)—Played 54 snaps as a starter and had five tackles in 2005 game at Tech.

*Michael Hamlin (CAT)— Made third career start at Tech in 2005 and had six tackles in 52 plays, including a 31-yard interception return.

*Thomas Hunter (TE)—Had two receptions for 23 yards in 42 plays as starting tight end in 2005.

*Rashaad Jackson (DT)—Had two tackles in 30 plays in his only start as a freshman in 2005.

*Aaron Kelly (WR)—Had two receptions for seven yards in 39 plays as a reserve, but had an 81-yard kickoff return, the longest of his career.

*Reggie Merriweather (RB)—Had career high 128 yards rushing on 23 attempts at Georgia Tech in 2005. Had 8-90 rushing, including a 62-yard touchdown run in 2004 game at Clemson. So has 218 yards rushing in 32 attempts for his career, a 6.8 average.

*Chansi Stuckey (WR)—Had one catch for 23 yards in 2004 game at Clemson and had 8-89 and one punt return for 11 yards in 2005 game at Tech.

*Nick Watkins (LB)—Had five tackles in 19 plays, including two tackles for loss in 2004 game at Clemson. Had career high 14 tackles in 59 plays as a starter in 2005 game at Georgia Tech.

Clemson Successful on Homecoming
Saturday will be Homecoming at Clemson, a celebration that has included a Clemson victory nearly 75 percent of the time since its first celebration in 1922. Clemson has an overall record of 60-19-3 for its previous 82 Homecoming games, a .750 winning percentage. That includes a 30-3-2 record on Homecoming games since the 1971 season.

The first homecoming game at Clemson was in 1922, a 21-0 loss to Centre. Clemson was actually 0-4-1 through its first five homecoming games, so it is surprising that the tradition continued. Clemson defeated Auburn in 1927 by a 3-0 score for its first homecoming victory. There is no record of a homecoming game in 1930 or 1938, but the event has been held in conjunction with a football game every year since 1939, even through the war years.

Clemson has just three losses on Homecoming since 1971, and one of the three was against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets upset a 14th ranked Clemson team 30-14 in Danny Ford's final year as Clemson head coach. That was the last loss for Ford as Clemson head coach and the only time he lost a homecoming game in 11 years as Clemson head coach. Georgia Tech went on to a fine 7-4 season in 1989, then won the national Championship the following year.

Clemson's other two losses on homecoming since 1971 took place in 1997 to Virginia and in 2001 to North Carolina. Tommy Bowden is 6-1 in his previous seven Homecoming games, including four wins in a row. Clemson defeated a 24th ranked Virginia team on Homecoming by a 30-27 score in overtime in 2003. Clemson downed Duke 49-20 last year.

Five of Tommy Bowden's six Homecoming wins have been against ACC foes.

Georgia Tech will be the highest ranked team Clemson has ever faced on homecoming. In fact, this will mark just the fourth time Clemson has played a top 25 team for homecoming. Clemson defeated a 22nd ranked Duke team 49-17 in 1988 and a 24th ranked Virginia team in 2003 by a 30-27 score in overtime on homecoming. The Tigers defeated a 22nd ranked Georgia Tech team in 1996 by a 28-25 score. Thus, Clemson is 3-0 vs. ranked teams on homecoming.

Battle of Top 20 Teams at Clemson
This will be just the 12th battle of top 20 teams in the history of Clemson Memorial Stadium. The stadium dates to the 1942 season.

Clemson has a 6-5 record in those previous 11 games involving top 20 teams, but the Tigers have lost the last three and have not won a top 20 confrontation at home since October 26, 1991 when 19th ranked Clemson defeated 12 th ranked NC State 29-19.

This will be just the second top 20 meeting at Death Valley since Tommy Bowden became Clemson's head coach in 1999. That took place last year when 13th ranked Miami (FL) defeated 20th ranked Clemson 36-30 in three overtimes.

As you can see by the chart below, this will be just the second meeting in the history of the stadium in which both teams were ranked in the top 13 in the nation entering the game, and the first time a top 13 matchup has taken place this late in the season. The only other matchup of top 13 teams in Clemson Memorial Stadium took place on September 17, 1988 when 10th ranked Florida State defeated third-ranked Clemson, 24-21. Tommy Bowden's father, Bobby Bowden, beat Danny Ford's Tigers that day in the famous "puntrooskie" game. The only matchup that is close to this after October 1 took place on November 12, 1977 when a fifth ranked Notre Dame team defeated a 15 th ranked Clemson team, 21-17. Notre Dame went on to win the national championship that year.

Tigers Off to Best Start since 2000
Clemson is off to a 6-1 start in 2006, its best start to the season since 2000. That year Clemson opened with an 8-0 record, a streak that brought Clemson to a #3 national ranking by USA Today. That undefeated start ended when Georgia Tech won at Clemson by a 31-28 score on a touchdown 16-yard pass from Gary Godsey to Kerry Watkins with just seven seconds left.

This is just the second time Clemson has won six of its first seven games since 1987 and just the sixth time since 1960. Clemson has been 6-1 or better 14 times in history. A win over Georgia Tech would give the Tigers a 7-1 record for the first time since 2000 and for just the 10th time in school history. Since 1950 Clemson has been 7-1 or better in 1977 (7-1), 1978 (7-1), 1981 (8-0), 1987 (7-1) and 2000 (8-0).

Clemson Leads ACC in Total Offense and Total Defense
Clemson enters this game leading the ACC in 12 different statistical categories. On the offensive side of the ball, Clemson leads in total offense (459.0), touchdowns (41), rushing offense (250.6), scoring offense (43.9), first downs (22.4), third-down conversion percentage (.488), fewest sacks allowed (4), and passing efficiency (151.2 rating points). Defensively, Clemson paces the conference in total defense (234.0), pass efficiency defense (96.3), and quarterback sacks (22). From a special teams standpoint, Clemson leads the ACC in kickoff returns with a 28.0 average. Top Stories