GAME: No. 13 Georgia Tech (5-1, 3-0) at No. 12 Clemson (6-1, 3-1) 7:45 PM
LOCATION: Memorial Stadium (81,474)
SPREAD: Clemson by 8
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 58-34 (76-38 overall) in his eighth season with the Tigers. Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey is 33-23 (57-34 overall) in his fifth year with the Yellow Jackets.
SERIES: 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. The Clemson/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.
INJURIES: Clemson- LB Tramaine Billie (ankle) out, LB Anthony Waters (ACL) out, WR Chansi Stuckey (foot) doubtful, RB Reggie Merriweather (ankle) probable, DT Etta Etta-Tawo (heart) out, Rendrick Taylor (arm) out. Georgia Tech- None.
CLEMSON KEY PLAYER: QB Will Proctor. The Jackets will show Proctor multiple looks and bring pressure from everywhere. Proctor must be sound in his decision-making and take advantage on the ground if Tech over pursues.
GEORGIA TECH KEY PLAYER: QB Reggie Ball. The Jackets are getting the ball more to Calvin Johnson this year under new coordinator Patrick Nix. The key Saturday rests in Ball's hands. He must be accurate and take what the Clemson defense gives him to move the chains.
QUICK NOTES ON GEORGIA TECH: Tech is ranked 13th in both polls ... three of Tech's next four games are on the road against ACC opponents where the Jackets are 9-8 under head coach Chan Gailey ... over his last three games Calvin Johnson has 22 catches for 413 yards and five TDs ... Johnson is fifth among school career reception leaders (137), fourth in receiving yardage (2,284) and has caught a pass in each of his 30 career games ... Reggie Ball is 11th among ACC career total offense leaders (8,649), 16th in passing yardage (7,237) and has either run or thrown for a TD in 26 of his last 30 games ... Jadi World-Daniels leads the ACC in passes defended (1.5).
GEORGIA TECH QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think there are a lot of reasons for Reggie's development. It's not just him being a four-year starter, though that's part of it. We've got experienced players at every other position for the first time in his career. The offense that Coach (Patrick) Nix has put in and done a great job with probably fits him very well and he feels very comfortable doing it. So, I think there are a lot of plusses that are playing into him having the type of year he's had thus far." - Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey on the development of senior QB Reggie Ball.
CRAZY STAT OF THE WEEK: Clemson is the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 in total offense (6th) and total defense (4th). The Tigers also rank No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 43.9 points/game.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 - The total number of sacks given up by Clemson's offensive line this year.
FORECAST: Temperatures are expected to reach 69 degrees Saturday afternoon under mostly sunny skies. Saturday night will see clear conditions with a low of 52. Winds will be out of the WNW at 9 mph.
* Quick Hits with James Davis
* Week 8: Clemson Beat Pick 'Em
* Clemson Defense Ready for the Challenge
* CFN: Fearless ACC Predictions
* The Trials and Tribulations of Reggie Ball
* Tigers Preparing for Tech's Tough Schemes
* Johnson Still a Nightmare Matchup
* What We are Hearing ...
* Game Notes
* Bowden Press Conference Notes
* Billie to Redshirt
* Taylor Eyes Classes, Rehab
* Georgia Tech - Clemson Depth Chart
* Ga Tech Week: Tigers Workout Sunday
* Tigers Hold Firm at No. 12
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball- Offensively, the Tigers have dominated the competition this year, but upon closer inspection, most of the scoring has come against lesser competition. Consider the fact that the Tigers have scored 51 against Louisiana Tech, 63 against Temple, 56 against Florida Atlantic and 52 against North Carolina. Moving the ball against Georgia Tech will not be easy as the Yellow Jackets rank in the top 25 in total defense and top 10 in rushing defense. The Tigers must also account for Georgia Tech's front seven, which is as stout as any unit in the conference. Don't be surprised to see the Yellow Jackets load up the box to see if the Tigers can still run behind a senior dominated offensive line and RB James Davis. Bowden hinted earlier in the week he could bring in more tight ends as blockers to counter if needed. The onus then falls on QB Will Proctor, who must make sound decisions and big throws if Clemson expects to win.
When Georgia Tech has the Ball- Georgia Tech has three offensive weapons as dangerous as any players in the ACC in QB Reggie Ball, RB Tashard Choice and WR Calvin Johnson. Johnson in particular causes matchup problems with his size and speed. Last year the Tigers limited him to just four catches for 46 yards but that was with first round draft pick Tye Hill in the mix. This year, Clemson will again utilize a corner and Mike Hamlin over the top to try and limit Johnson's big play ability. Ball has become a better decision maker under first-year coordinator Patrick Nix and has kept his interceptions down. Defensively, the Tigers front seven must pressure Ball while also keeping contain as his scrambling ability can keep drives alive, even on third and long. Somewhat overlooked is Choice (transfer from Oklahoma), who is a powerful runner that currently ranks third in the conference in rushing behind Clemson's Davis and Virginia Tech's Branden Ore.
Special Teams- The Tigers have struggled mightily on kickoff returns this season but Georgia Tech has been worse. Tech kicker Travis Bell is just 4-of-8 on field goals this year while Clemson's Jad Dean is improving and is now 8-of-12 on the season. The Yellow Jackets are currently the top ranked punting team in the ACC, averaging 39.6 net yards per punt. All statistics aside, Clemson can ill-afford any special teams mistakes in this game and expect to win. That includes blocked extra points, blocked field goals, long kickoff returns, etc.
Intangibles- It what many are called the most hyped game to be played at Clemson in the last 18 years, there's plenty of off-the-field action that could serve as a potential distraction. From Homecoming to ESPN's College GameDay setting up on Bowman Field to ACC Championship hopes on the line, you name it and there's a story about it when it comes to Saturday's game. The reality of the situation is that if Clemson plans on winning an ACC Championship, it has to win this game with a road contest at Virginia Tech looming just five days later. Saturday's game looks to be a legitimate matchup of the top two teams in the ACC, and very well could be a preview of the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville.
PREDICTION Clemson 28 Georgia Tech 19
DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-game Show will be broadcasting live Saturday afternoon from 1:30 PM to 4:45 PM from the Lawn at Littlejohn. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on wccpfm.com.
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