Clemson - Georgia Tech Game Notes

13th-ranked Clemson faces off with Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

The ACC's Most Competitive Series
The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech series has been the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 11 years. Nine of the last 11 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.

Clemson was victorious last year behind the running of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The duo combined for 332 yards rushing and four touchdowns, three rushing, in the 31-7 Clemson win.

Georgia Tech was victorious in 2005 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 2005 season. 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 45-24-2 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.

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 9-5 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. Howard won just twice in his career in Atlanta.

•The first time Georgia Tech played in Clemson's stadium was 1974, a 21-17 Clemson victory. Clemson won that game on a three- yard 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 13-11 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 the 2005 game. The point total for the eight games is 244-187 in favor of the Tigers, giving Clemson a 30.5-23.4 average victory during the time. But, in the won-loss column the teams are tied 4-4.

•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 the Tigers have returned a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Last Year vs. Georgia Tech
Clemson 31, Georgia Tech 7
In front of a nationally-televised audience on ESPN, #12 Clemson ran away from #13 Georgia Tech 31-7 in front of an overflow Homecoming crowd at Memorial Stadium on October 21. It was the first matchup of top-15 teams in Death Valley since 1992.

Clemson's running attack proved why it was one of the best in the nation, as it totaled 321 yards against a team that entered the game seventh in the nation against the run. It took only 38 carries to amass the 321 rushing yards.

Atlanta native James Davis rushed for 216 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns against his hometown team, while C.J. Spiller added 116 yards on 16 carries and a score. It was the first time in history that Clemson had a 200-yard rusher and 100-yard rusher in the same game.

Playing through a "banged-up" shoulder, Davis had four rushes of 20 yards or more, including two rushes of over 50 yards. Spiller also had a 50-yard touchdown run and a 50-yard touchdown catch, giving Clemson four offensive plays of 50 yards or more. Spiller became the first player in Clemson history to score on a run and pass of at least 50 yards in the same game.

Will Proctor was 7-16 passing for 105 yards and a touchdown, giving Clemson 426 yards of total offense on only 54 plays (7.9 yards per play).

Meanwhile, Clemson's defense swarmed Georgia Tech all night, allowing just 205 yards of total offense. For what would be the only time in his career, first round draft choice junior Calvin Johnson was held without a catch. Reggie Ball was limited to 12-25 for 117 yards.

Clemson's defense also allowed only one carry of 10 yards or more (14-yard scramble by Ball), and one pass play over 12 yards, which was a 35-yard touchdown catch that bounced off a Tiger defender.

After the Tigers went through warmups in orange jerseys and purple pants, they changed jerseys in the locker room and ran down the Hill in all purple. It was the first time in the modern era that Clemson wore all purple uniforms.

The Yellow Jackets put together a long drive of their own, but came away empty. After driving 55 yards, Travis Bell hooked a 36-yard field goal wide-left. Both teams traded punts on the next two drives.

Davis ran 53 yards on the first play of the second quarter to the Georgia Tech 18. After four more rushes by the sophomore, he scored from two yards out when he dodged a defender on third-and-goal.

Neither team threatened again, leaving the Tigers ahead 7-0 at halftime. It marked the first time since 1987 that Clemson held Georgia Tech scoreless in the first half.

After back-to-back, negative-yardage plays by Ball early in the third quarter, Georgia Tech punted. A kick-catch interference penalty gave the Tigers the ball at the Yellow Jacket 42. Davis rushed 30 yards on the next play, but the drive stalled. Jad Dean made a 25-yard field goal to put Clemson up 10-0.

After both teams traded punts, Davis carried 22 yards to midfield on the first play of the ensuing drive. Spiller then dashed 50 yards up the middle for a touchdown to put Clemson ahead 17-0 with 0:58 left in the third quarter.

Georgia Tech responded with an eight- play, 73-yard drive to cut the Tiger lead to 10 points. After converting two third downs, James Johnson caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Ball after the ball deflected off Crezdon Butler.

But Clemson answered and upped its lead back to 17 points thanks to a highlight-reel play. On third-and-four, Spiller took a swing pass on the right side, eluded two Yellow Jackets, and sprinted 50 yards for a touchdown. He became the first Tiger in history to have a 50-yard touchdown run and 50-yard touchdown catch in the same game.

Gaines Adams and company made sure Georgia Tech got no closer, as he sacked Ball on third-and-five on the next drive to force a punt. It was Adams' sixth-straight game with a sack, establishing a Tiger record.

Davis carried on all four plays of the ensuing drive. The second carry was a 54-yard jaunt to the Georgia Tech five. Two plays later, he ran five yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 31-7 lead with 7:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Battle of Kickers with Ties to Clemson Soccer
While there will be a lot of interesting match-ups in the Clemson vs. Georgia Tech game on Saturday, the competition between the place kickers will certainly be of note. Georgia Tech's Travis Bell, a senior from Roswell, Ga, leads the ACC in kick scoring with 11.0 points per game. Clemson's Mark Buchholz, a junior from Alpharetta, GA, is second in the league with 9.2 points per game.

Bell has the experience edge as he is a red-shirt senior who is a perfect 115-115 on extra points in his career. Buchholz hasn't missed an extra point either and is 19-19 on PATS, all coming this year. Buchholz is 6-8 on field goals and Bell is 10-11.

What is interesting is that they both have ties to Clemson soccer. Buchholz is in his fourth year as a starter on the Clemson team this year and will play in a match against Duke at Clemson on Friday night. That match will be televised by the Fox Soccer Channel, so he will play in two televised events in two different sports within 24 hours.

He will then be transported to Atlanta Friday night to join the Clemson football team for its 3:30 PM game on Saturday.

Bell was an outstanding soccer player in high school and actually served as a goal keeper for Clemson men's soccer coach Trevor Adair's Olympic Development team when Bell was in high school. He committed to come to Clemson and play for Adair at one point, but changed his mind and decided to walk on to the Georgia Tech football team.

Tigers From Georgia
Clemson has 12 players on its roster from the state of Georgia. That includes three players from the city of Atlanta, the home of Georgia Tech. James Davis, Ray Ray McElrathbey and Kwam Williams all list Atlanta as their hometown. Davis is the starting running back, while McElrathbey and Williams are reserves. McElrathbey is out for the year with a torn ACL.

Clemson's starting quarterback Cullen Harper is from the Georgia, as he is a native of Alpharetta. He and starting place kicker Mark Buchholz list Alpharetta as their home, but they went to different high schools. Buchholz went to Chattahoochee, the same school that produced Charlie Whitehurst.

Aaron Kelly is another Clemson starter from Georgia. He is a native of Marietta and Walton, SC. He needs just one catch to reach 100 for his career. He has at least one catch in 28 of his 29 career games, so chances are he will reach that milestone this weekend in the ACC stadium closest to his home.

Linebacker Antonio Clay had 13 tackles against Georgia Tech last year and was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Davis Returns to Atlanta
James Davis is certainly looking forward to playing Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Clemson junior grew up just blocks from Grant Field and could hear the roar of the crowd from his home.

This will be his second trip to Atlanta with the Tiger football team. His first trip in 2005 as a freshman was discouraging. After gaining 143 yards against NC State that year, he suffered a broken wrist. He could play just one snap and had just one carry at Tech that year due to the injury. Clemson lost the game 10-9.

Last year, Davis played perhaps his best game against Tech in a contest at Clemson. He gained 216 yards and scored two touchdowns in the 31-7 Tiger victory. Davis is coming off an 166 yard performance against NC State, the second highest rushing game of his career.

Tigers Dominating Points off Turnover Stat under Current Coordinators
One area that has been strong for Clemson since coordinators Rob Spence and Vic Koenning came to Tommy Bowden's staff in 2005 has been points off turnover. The Clemson offense has done a great job in terms of scoring after turnovers and the Tiger defense has done a great job of limiting scoring after the offense commits a miscue.

In 2006, Clemson had a 113-51 advantage in that statistic and was outscored in that area in just three of the 13 games.

In 2005, Clemson had a 55-13 advantage in that statistic and was outscored in that area just once all year, by a 3-0 count in Clemson's 13-9 win at South Carolina.

So far this year Clemson has a 28-0 advantage in that area and obviously has not been outscored in any game.

Over the last three years, Clemson has a 196-64 advantage in points off turnovers and has been outscored in that area in just four of the last 29 games.

Tigers Open 4-0, 2-0 in ACC
Clemson has jumped out to a 4-0 start, one of 23 teams that are still undefeated entering this weekend's play. Clemson and Boston College are the only ACC teams still undefeated. The 4-0 undefeated teams remaining are Clemson, West Virginia, Oregon, Oklahoma, LSU, Florida, Boston College, Hawaii, Kentucky, Kansas, California, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, Missouri, Texas, Cincinnati, Arizona State, and UCONN. The teams that are 3-0 include Southern California, Rutgers, and South Florida.

This is the first time Clemson has been 4-0 to start a season since 2000 when Clemson started 8-0, and it is just the second 4-0 start for the program since 1989. This is Clemson's second 4-0 start under Tommy Bowden. Overall it is the 12th season in the history of the program that Clemson has opened 4-0, just the fifth since 1958.

Clemson's 4-0 starts since 1958 took place in 1981 (when Clemson won all 12 games on the way to the National Championship, 1987 when the Tigers started 6-0, 1989 when Danny Ford's last team started 4-0 and 2000, Tommy Bowden's second Clemson team. It is interesting to note by the chart below that all four Clemson teams that have started 4-0 since 1958 have finished the season in the top 20 of the final polls.

Clemson will have an opportunity to reach 5-0 if it can win at Georgia Tech on September 29. Clemson has been 5-0 just nine previous seasons, most recently in 2000. Clemson's other 5-0 starts since 1958 have come in 1981, 1987, and 2000.

Clemson's most recent 4-0 start was the 8-0 start in 2000 and it was ended by Georgia Tech, a 31-28 Yellow Jacket victory in 2000 at Death Valley.

Clemson is 2-0 in the ACC, just the third time since 1988 that has been the case. This is the first time Clemson has started 2-0 in the league since 2000 when it jumped out to a 6-0 league mark. Clemson was also 2-0 in the ACC in Tommy Bowden's first year, 1999. But, prior to that you have to go back to the 1988 season to find the last time Clemson opened at least 2-0 in the ACC.

Tigers Start Three Seniors Across Offensive Line
Clemson starts three seniors across the offensive line, but it doesn't mean it is an experienced offensive line. Clemson returned just one starter from last year, All-ACC tackle Barry Richardson. Sophomore starters Thomas Austin and Barry Humphries had played just 13 games and 201 combined snaps as freshmen prior to this year.

Richardson is the most experienced and has started each of the last 36 games. He has played 40 games overall, never missing a game since the first game his freshman year in 2004. He is now a veteran of 2,125 career plays and has 161 career knockdown blocks. He graded a season best 90 percent in the win over NC State, helping Clemson to 608 yards of total offense and 340 yards rushing.

Chris McDuffie leads the team in knockdowns this year from his guard position with 41.5, including a team season best 15 against Furman. He added 13.5 in the win over NC State and now has 102.5 for his career.

Christian Capote was Clemson's nominee for ACC Offensive lineman of the week for the win over NC State. He graded 91 percent, and had 11 knockdowns in 68 snaps.

Clemson's five starting offensive linemen have 56 career starts between them, 36 by Richardson. Top Stories