GAME: Central Michigan (4-3, 3-0 MAC) at Clemson (4-2, 2-2 ACC)
LOCATION: Clemson, S.C., Memorial Stadium (81,750)
TIME: 12:00 P.M. EST
SPREAD: Tigers by 17
SERIES: This is the first ever meeting between Central Michigan and Clemson on the gridiron.
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 64-40 (82-44 overall) in his ninth year at Clemson. Central Michigan's Butch Jones is 3-3 in his first season with the Chippewas.
INJURIES: Clemson- RB Ray Ray McElrathbey (ACL) out, FB Chad Diehl (leg) out, Haydrian Lewis (ACL) out, WR Rendrick Taylor (hamstring) questionable, WR Jacoby Ford (bruised sternum). Central Michigan - N/A.
CLEMSON KEY PLAYER: The Offensive Line. After a suspect performance against Virginia Tech two weeks ago, especially in trying to establish the run, the Clemson offensive line remains under the microscope. This unit has to do a better job of finishing blocks and opening holes for running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
CRAZY STAT OF THE WEEK: Homecoming 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.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This will be the biggest challenge we've had to date. We're facing a great football team in one of the greatest venues in all of college football. This will be the loudest environment we play in all season and will be another physical football game for our team." - Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones.
FORECAST: Sunny skies. High 79. Winds out of the northwest at five to 10 mph.
* Chippewas Hard to Figure Out
* On the Record: Aaron Kelly
* Bowden Comments on Korn
* Korn Not 100 Percent
* Tuesday Notebook: Spence Goes Off
* What We are Hearing...
* 2007 Clemson Beat Pick 'Em
* Austin Finding Comfort Zone at Center
* On the Record: Cullen Harper
* Game Notes
* Changes In Store for Saturday
* Tuesdays with Vic
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball - The Tigers plan to use more of the spread formation Saturday and for the rest of the season to help ease concerns on the offensive line. The Tigers have moved the ball well through the air this season, ranking second in the ACC in passing offense, but have struggled on the ground. Central Michigan is ranked 110th in the country in total defense so running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller should find wider running lanes than at any point in the first six games. With Davis healthy, look for Clemson to use him more as a focal point of the offense during this game, and also during the second half of the season. The Chippewas will do a lot of shifting at the line of scrimmage and can shift from a 4-3 into a 3-4 scheme. If backup signal caller Willy Korn does get a medical hardship, this would be a good time to get the new No. 2 quarterback, Tribble Reese some playing time.
When Central Michigan has the Ball - If there is one area the Chippewas scare you, it's on offense where quarterback Dan LeFevour can beat you on the ground or with his legs. LeFevour is the current USA Today National Player of the Week after completing 30-of-39 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 100 yards and four touchdowns in his team's 47-23 win over Army last week. Central Michigan runs a similar style offense as West Virginia and will also try to establish a quicker pace to catch opposing defenses off guard. After scoring 140 points in its last three games, including 58 against the same Ball State team that almost upset Nebraska earlier this season, it seems safe to say this will be one of the toughest challenges for the Clemson defense this season. No that's not a misprint.
Special Teams - This much maligned part of the Clemson football team has struggled the entire season. After giving up a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech, the Tigers can ill-afford any sort of special teams letdown against Central Michigan for the sake of trying to build confidence against an inferior team. Kicker Mark Buchholz rebounded against Virginia Tech to make both of his field goals and all of his extra points.
Intangibles - Coming off the only open date of the year, the Tigers are as healthy as they've been since the preseason. Still, confidence is somewhat lacking after consecutive losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Can this team rebound and put together a second half run to get back into the Atlantic Division race? Tommy Bowden has done it before, under worse circumstances, but can he do it again? Furthermore, can the offense become more balanced featuring two of the top running backs in the nation in the backfield?
PREDICTION: Clemson 38 Central Michigan 20
Don't be surprised to see the Chippewas move the football against Clemson's defense, as QB Dan LeFevour will be one of the best signal callers the Tigers will see this season. Still, Clemson has better athletes and its defensive line should keep Central Michigan out of the end zone for most of the day. Clemson wins, but it won't be easy.
PRE-GAME SHOW INFO: The Tiger Pre-game Show with Roy Philpott and Scott Rhymer will be broadcasting live at the Lawn at Littlejohn from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM Saturday morning. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on wccpfm.com as we celebrate our 55th consecutive game broadcasting on location covering your Clemson Tigers.
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