Central Michigan - Clemson Game Notes

Saturday will be Homecoming at Clemson when Central Michigan comes to town. It has historically been 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 61-19-3 for its previous 83 Homecoming games, a .753 winning percentage. That includes a 31-3-2 record (.889) 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 7-1 in his previous eight Homecoming games, including five wins in a row. Clemson defeated a 24th ranked Virginia team on Homecoming by a 30-27 score in overtime in 2003. Clemson downed Utah State 35-6 in 2005. He then defeated a 13th ranked Georgia Tech team last year by a 31-7 score. That was also the first ever appearance for ESPN Gameday on the Clemson campus. Six of Tommy Bowden's seven Homecoming wins have been against ACC foes.

Last year's win over Georgia Tech was the highest ranked victory in Clemson history on homecoming. In fact, it was 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 4-0 vs. ranked teams on homecoming.

Tigers Face Non-BCS Division I Opponent
Clemson will face Central Michigan, a member of the Mid-American Conference, on Saturday. Clemson has had success over the years against Division I teams not in BCS conferences. The Tigers are 17-1 against non- BCS Division I schools since 1975, including a 10-1 mark under Tommy Bowden. Earlier this year Clemson defeated non-BCS Division I team Louisiana Monroe.

Clemson's only loss to a Division I non-BCS conference team since 1975 is a 13-10 loss to Marshall, then of the Mid-American Conference, in 1999. That was Tommy Bowden's first game as Clemson coach. That Marshall team, led by current New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, went on to a 13-0 season and a #10 final national ranking in both polls. Marshall is now a member of Conference USA.

The last Division I team not in a BCS conference to defeat Clemson prior to the Marshall game in 1999 was Tulane, who gained a 17-13 win at Clemson in the 1975 season opener. Tulane was an independent then.

First time Winners at Death Valley
Central Michigan will attempt to become just the third first-time visitor in the last 30 years to win at Death Valley. The only opponents since 1978 to win in their first visit to Clemson have been Marshall, a 13-10 winner in the season opener of the 1999 season, and Miami (FL), in 2005 in a 36-30 triple overtime game. Prior to that, the last first-appearance winner at Clemson was Notre Dame in 1977.

Central Michigan is the 49th different school to come to Clemson Memorial Stadium and the previous 48 have a record of 12-35-1 in their first game at Clemson. Three of the 12 first-time winners (Alabama, Kentucky, Marshall) have beaten the Tigers by the exact same score, 13- 10.

A look to Clemson's home record over the years shows why the Tigers enjoy playing in Death Valley. Clemson has a record of 314- 117-15 at home over the years, a .721 winning percentage. Clemson is 245-260-23 away from home, a .486 winning percentage for those 528 games on an opponent's home field. Clemson is 61-47-7 in neutral site games. You might notice that Clemson now has 620 all-time victories, 314 at home and 306 away from home.

Clemson has a 239-93-7 record in Death Valley (since 1942), a .715 winning percentage for 339 games. Tommy Bowden has followed the lead of his predecessors when it comes to playing at home. He is 40-15 so far in his 55 home games, a .727 winning percentage. Clemson has won 23 of the last 29 at home with five of the six losses coming by six points or less. Five of the six have been decided in overtime or the last 10 seconds.

Tigers vs. the Mid American Conference
Clemson has a 5-0 lifetime record against teams currently in the Mid American Conference. Clemson has a 3-0 mark against Temple and a 2-0 record against Ball State. Those are the only two previous MAC schools Clemson has played. The Tigers will play host to Central Michigan again in 2009.

Clemson's last game against a MAC school took place last year when Clemson defeated Temple 63-9 in a game played in Charlotte. Clemson won its first two games against Temple by identical 37-7 scores, 14 years apart, 1991 and 2005. Clemson's wins over Ball State took place 10 years apart 1992 and 2002.

Clemson has lost to a Mid-American conference team, however. In 1999, Tommy Bowden's first game as head coach, the Tigers lost to Marshall, then a member of the Mid- American conference, by a 13-10 score.

Spence Has Coached vs. Central Michigan
Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence has faced Central Michigan previously in his career as an offensive coordinator. The third year Clemson coach faced Central Michigan four times during his time as offensive coordinator at Toledo. The Rockets had a 4-0 record against Central Michigan during Spence's time.

A productive offense was the key to the Toledo victories as the Rockets won by scores of 52-28, 44-17. 31-13 and 27-22. The 2003 victory by a 31-13 score featured a Spence offense that gained 643 yards of total offense in 98 offensive plays. That is the most plays Spence has called in a game in his career. For the four games combined, Toledo averaged 257 yards rushing, 274.5 yards passing and 531.3 yards of total offense.

Tiger Defense Best in the ACC
While Clemson has lost its last two games, the Tigers defense has been very strong. Clemson has allowed the opposition just 475 total yards over the last two games combined and has held the opposition under 300 yards total offense in four of the six games so far this season. Over the last two games the opposition has had 17 possessions that have started in their own territory and the Clemson defense has not allowed the opposition to drive for a touchdown a single time. The streak actually is 18 consecutive possessions dating to the NC State game.

Clemson ranks first in the ACC in total defense, allowing just 289.3 yards per game, a figure that is 12th best in the nation. Clemson also leads the ACC in pass defense, allowing just 135.2 yards per game, and leads he league in pass efficiency defense with a 92.0 rating. Clemson is second in the entire nation in pass defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense. Clemson allowed Virginia Tech just 65 yards passing, the best pass defense by an ACC team this year.

It has been a team effort in allowing just 11 touchdowns by the opposing offense so far this year, but there have been some standout efforts worth mentioning. Nick Watkins leads the team in tackles with 62, including a team best 38 first hits. Phillip Merling has led the defensive line with 41 tackles, second on the Clemson team. He also leads the team in tackles for loss with nine, a figure that ranks in the top five in the ACC. He is ranked second in the ACC in tackles for loss.

Michael Hamlin has been a leader in the secondary with three interceptions and 35 total tackles. He leads the team in takeaways with four, three thefts and one fumble recovery. Chris Clemons, his fellow safety, has 37 tackles and two interceptions. Tramaine Billie also deserves some attention with 37 total tackles. Ricky Sapp leads the team in sacks with three and has seven total tackles for loss to go with his 24 total tackles.

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