GAME: Clemson (5-2, 2-2 ACC) at Maryland (4-3, 1-2)
LOCATION: College Park, Md., Byrd Stadium (51,500)
TV: ABC (Dave Lamont, James Hasty, Joe Schad)
TIME: 3:36 P.M. EST
SPREAD: Tigers by 3.5
SERIES: Clemson leads the overall series with Maryland 29-24-2. The Tigers have also won two of the last three, including a 28-24 win at Byrd Stadium two years ago.
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 65-40 (83-44 overall) in his ninth year at Clemson. Bowden is 4-4 in his career against Maryland. The Terps are 4-2 against the Tigers under coach Ralph Friedgen, including a 13-12 win last season in Clemson. Friedgen, who is in his seventh season at Maryland, owns a career recrod of 54-27.
INJURIES: Clemson- RB Ray Ray McElrathbey (ACL) out, FB Chad Diehl (leg) out, Haydrian Lewis (ACL) out, WR Rendrick Taylor (hamstring) questionable. Maryland- RG Andrew Crummey (fibula) out, LG Jaimie Thomas (fibula) out, DT Travis Ivey (knee) out, LB Alex Wujciak (unknown) out.
CLEMSON KEY PLAYER: RB James Davis. Maryland enters Saturday's game struggling to stop the run. A healthy dose of Davis and C.J. Spiller feeding off the strong play of QB Cullen Harper could be the difference between a win and a loss. Plus, don't forget Davis guaranteed a win this Saturday ... the pressure is squarely on his shoulders.
MARYLAND KEY PLAYER: QB Chris Turner. Teams that have had success against Clemson's zone scheme under defensive coordinator Vic Koenning typically have an experienced quarterback who makes quick reads with pin point accuracy. Turner will have to dissect Clemson's defense to keep the Tigers from focusing exclusively on running backs Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore.
CRAZY STAT OF THE WEEK: After taking a 7-3 lead in the first quarter of the Virginia game, Maryland has now outscored its opponents 57-19 in the opening quarter of games this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "(Clemson's defense) is kind of like what you see every year from them. They are big, strong, fast, and they have a lot of players. But we have been able to hang in there with them and I plan on being able to do the same this week." -- Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen.
FORECAST: Morning showers are possible Saturday in College Park but it should be partly cloudy by kickoff. Low 48, High 71. (weather.com)
* Has the OL Turned the Corner?
* 3 Keys to Victory
* Maryland players react to Davis' 'guarantee'
* What We are Hearing...
* Sapp Confident in DL Production
* Terps Dealing with Own OL Struggles
* 2007 Clemson Beat Pick 'Em
* I'm Not Fooled
* J.D. Has Something to Have
* Rendrick Taylor Has Options
* Clemson - Maryland Game Notes
* Tuesdays with Vic
* Depth Chart
* Monday Practice Notebook
KEYS FOR THE CLEMSON OFFENSE - Surprisingly, Maryland enters Saturday's game struggling to stop the run. The Terps are currently ranked 10th in the league in total defense (358 yards/game) and ninth in rushing defense, (143 yards/game). Red zone problems killed the Tigers last season against Maryland as the offense could only muster four Jad Dean field goals. The Tigers must convert in those red zone situations this season by scoring touchdowns against a defensive line that is physical and seemingly always gives Clemson problems. The Tigers also need to use the passing game to setup running backs C.J. Spiller and James Davis. Maryland will crowd the line of scrimmage to force Clemson through the air early on. As long as Cullen Harper can convert on passing situations early, things will gradually open up for the ground game in the second half. Keep an eye on Maryland LB Erin Henderson. Henderson, the Terps' active career leader in tackles, returned to the lineup last week after missing the Georgia Tech game with an injury and picked up right where he left off, totaling a career-high 18 tackles against Virginia.
KEYS FOR THE CLEMSON DEFENSE - Maryland features a powerful ground attack behind the tough running of Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball, but don't forget about QB Chris Turner and one of the most explosive wide receivers in the conference in Darrius Heyward-Bey. Turner has stepped in for the injured Jordan Steffy and been productive for head coach and play caller Ralph Friedgen. Still, Maryland's strength is rushing the football, and the stats illustrate that fact as the Terps are second in the league in rushing at 157 yards per game. Also, Lattimore's nine touchdowns this season ranks first in the ACC, while Ball checks in tied for second with eight. The Clemson defense must keep Ball and Lattimore contained while also getting more pressure on the quarterback. Clemson was able to force Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour out of the pocket last week but could never bring him down in the backfield. The defensive line must bring down Turner to force Maryland into third and long situations.
KEYS FOR CLEMSON'S SPECIAL TEAMS - The Tigers rebounded nicely against Central Michigan on special teams, keeping the Chippewas in check in the return game. Mark Buchholz did miss one field goal, but it came from 48 yards out and he made all nine of his extra points. The return game also received a spark from Jacoby Ford, who nearly took one all the way back before being tackled deep in Central Michigan territory. Special teams mishaps were critical in losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Simply put, the Tigers just need to avoid the colossal mistake here to continue to show improvement and win the game.
INTANGIBLES - The importance of this game from a Clemson perspective cannot be emphasized enough, as the loser is essentially eliminated from the ACC Championship game race. Sitting at 5-2, the Tigers can ill-afford another conference loss considering Boston College is currently undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country. Nobody likes to say the season comes down to one game, but the Tigers will be unable to achieve their preseason goals with a loss in College Park.
PREDICTION: Clemson 23 Maryland 17
The last few years have produced several ugly games between these two teams- including Maryland's 13-12 win in Death Valley a year ago and Clemson's 10-7 home win in 2004. Don't be surprised to see this one turn into another defensive struggle decided by a big play or turnover. With Maryland suffering through two gut-wrenching, last-second losses this season to Wake Forest and Virginia, and with the struggles on defense, the slight edge goes to the Tigers. Don't be surprised if 20 points wins it.
PRE-GAME SHOW INFO: The Tiger Pre-game Show with Roy Philpott and Scott Rhymer will be broadcasting live from Byrd Stadium from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM Saturday afternoon. 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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