Saturday, November 16, 2002
7:45 PM ESPN-2
Play By Play: Jeff Hullinger
Color: Todd Christensen
Sideline: Stacy Paetz
Radio: Clemson Tiger Sports Properties
Play By Play: Jim Phillips
Color: Rodney Williams
Sideline: Pete Yanity
Series History: Clemson leads 27-21-2
Clemson Now Bowl Eligible
Clemson has a 6-4 record and became bowl eligible with its 42-12 victory at North Carolina last weekend. This is the 15th time in the last 18 years Clemson has been eligible for a bowl game. It is the fourth straight year Clemson has been eligible under Head Coach Tommy Bowden. If the Tigers advance to a bowl, it would be the first time since the 1988-91 era that Clemson has gone to a bowl game at least four years in a row.
It would be special for Clemson's senior class. No Clemson senior class has gone to four bowls since the senior class of 1991 led by Levon Kirkland and Ed McDaniel. Clemson has a 13-12 overall record in bowl games. Clemson ranks in the top 20 in college history in bowl victories and total bowl appearances.
Clemson is eligible for selection to the Gator Bowl (Jan. 1), the Peach Bowl (Dec. 31), the Tangerine Bowl (Dec. 23), the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte (Dec. 28) or the Seattle Bowl (Dec. 30). The selections are made in that order.
Clemson's Bowl History (13-12)
|1939||Cotton||Dallas, TX||BostonCollege (11)||W||6-3|
|1950||Orange||Miami, FL||Miami (FL) (15)||W||15-14|
|1951||Gator||Jacksonville, FL||Miami (FL) (15)||L||0-14|
|1956||Orange||Miami, FL||Colorado (20)||L||21-27|
|1958||Sugar||NewOrleans, LA||LSU (1)||L||0-7|
|1959||Bluebonnet||Houston, TX||TCU (7)||W||23-7|
|1977||Gator||Jacksonville, FL||Pittsburgh (10)||L||3-34|
|1978||Gator||Jacksonville, FL||OhioState (20)||W||17-15|
|1979||Peach||Atlanta, GA||Baylor (20)||L||18-24|
|1982||Orange||Miami, FL||Nebraska (4)||W||22-15|
|1986||Gator||Jacksonville, FL||Stanford (20)||W||27-21|
|1987||Citrus||Orlando, FL||PennState (20)||W||35-10|
|1988||Citrus||Orlando, FL||Oklahoma (10)||W||13-6|
|1989||Gator||Jacksonville, FL||WestVirginia (17)||W||27-7|
|1990||Hall of Fame||Tampa, FL||Illinois (18)||W||30-0|
|1991||Citrus||Orlando, FL||California (14)||L||13-37|
|1996||Peach||Atlanta, GA||LSU (17)||L||7-10|
|1997||Peach||Atlanta, GA||Auburn (13)||L||17-21|
|1999||Peach||Atlanta, GA||MississippiSt. (15)||L||7-17|
|2000||Gator||Jacksonville, FL||VirginiaTech (6)||L||20-41|
Clemson freshman quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has posted a 2-0 record as a starter this year. Both victories have come within the last two weeks, victories on the road at Duke and North Carolina.
Whitehurst is the first Clemson freshman quarterback to win his first two starts since Dexter McCleon did it in the last two games of the 1993 season. McCleon, a red-year freshman at the time, defeated South Carolina in the regular season finale and Kentucky in the Peach bowl to end that season, Ken Hatfield's final season. McCleon then moved to the secondary and never played quarterback again so he ended his career with a 2-0 record.
Whitehurst is trying to become the first freshman since 1985 to win three starts. The only other Clemson freshman quarterback to win more than two games as a starter is Rodney Williams, who posted a 5-3 record in 1985 as a red-shirt freshman. Williams won his first four games that year as a starter, the only Clemson freshman to win his first four games as a starter.
As you can see by the chart below, it is difficult for a freshman to lead a team to victory. Clemson freshman starting quarterbacks are just 14-17 since 1952, so Whitehurst's accomplishments are significant.
|Steve Fuller||1975||0-1||0-0||0-1||L at Alabama|
|Willie Jordan||1975||1-5||1-2||0-3||L, at Georgia Tech|
|Louis Solomon||1992||1-0||1-0||0-0||W, Duke|
|Patrick Sapp||1992||1-3||1-1||0-2||L, WakeForest|
|Dexter McCleon||1993||2-0||0-0||2-0||W, at S. Carolina|
|Nealon Greene||1994||2-4||1-1||1-3||L, Georgia|
|Woody Dantzler||1998||0-1||0-0||0-1||L, N. Carolina|
|Charlie Whitehurst||2002||2-0||0-0||2-0||W, at Duke|
|Totals||14-17||7-5||7-12||4-5 in first start|
Whitehurst Already Has Broken Records
Charlie Whitehurst has started just two games, but he already has established 23 Clemson records on a game and season basis. Granted, 15 of them are freshman marks, but still, he is off to quite a start statistically and in the win column. It is safe to say it is the best start ever for a Clemson quarterback from an offensive production and touchdowns standpoint.
In his first start at Duke two weeks ago, Whitehurst completed 34-52 passes for 420 yards and four touchdowns. He threw for 215 yards in the fourth quarter alone, a Clemson record for one period. His 34 completions were a Clemson single game record, as were his 420 passing yards. In fact, his 420 yards passing were the second best ever for an ACC quarterback in his first college start. Dave Brown threw for 444 yards for Duke in his first college start in 1989.
Against North Carolina, Whitehurst completed 12-20 passes for 274 yards and four more touchdowns. His passing efficiency rating computed to 241.1, an all-time Clemson record for passing efficiency in a single game, given a minimum of 20 attempts.
Whitehurst now has completed 64-102 passes for 874 yards and nine touchdowns. He has thrown just one interception. His 161.9 passing efficiency is at a record rate for any Clemson quarterback given a minimum of 100 attempts. He has already broken the Clemson freshman record for touchdown passes, passing yards, and completions.
If he played in 75 percent of the Clemson games his efficiency would be second best in the nation, even ahead of Byron Leftwich of Marshall, who has a 157 figure for the year.
Records Set by Whitehurst in 2002
Overall Clemson (8)
* Most completions in a game (34) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Most passing yards in a game (420) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* $Most touchdown passes in a game (4) vs. Duke, 11-2-02 a vs. North Carolina, 11-9-02
* Most passes attempted without an interception (52) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Most total offense plays (65) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Highest passing efficiency, min of 20 attempts (241.1) vs. North Carolina, 11-9-02
* Passing yards in consecutive games (694) vs. Duke, UNC, 2002
* Most yards passing in a quarter (215) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
$indicates tied record
Clemson Freshman Records (15)
* Most completions in a game (34) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Most passing yards in a game (420) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Most touchdown passes in a game (4) vs. Duke, 11-2-02 vs. North Carolina, 11-9-02
* Most passes attempted without interception in a game (52) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Most total offense plays in a game (65) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Total offense in a game (414) vs. Duke, 11-2-02
* Passing Efficiency in a game (241.1) vs. North Carolina, 11-9-02
* Completions in a season (62)
* Passing yards in a season (874)
* Completion percentage in a season (62.7)
* Touchdown passes (9)
* Touchdown/interception ratio (9/1)
* Yards per pass attempt in season (8.57)
* Yards per completion in season (13.7)
* Touchdown responsibility in a season (10)
Great Day for Clemson Track Team
Clemson has a history of dual sport athletes, especially when it comes to players who have run track and played skill positions on the Tiger football team. James Trapp is still in the NFL (10th year) with the Baltimore Ravens. He might have been Clemson's greatest track athlete in history and is in the Clemson Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in that sport. Doug Thomas, the only Clemson player in history with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same year (1990) was also an All-American in track before playing with the Seattle Seahawks.
The tradition continues based on Saturday's game at North Carolina. Airese Currie and Tye Hill both will run on Clemson's for Bob Pollock's Clemson track team this year. Hill red-shirted last year due to a foot injury, but Currie earned All-America honors on the 4X100 relay team outdoors. Clemson finished second in that event outdoors at the NCAAs in Baton Rouge last year. Currie has been timed in 10.40 in the 100 meters, while Hill's best is 10.51.
Both players nearly had 100-yard days at North Carolina. Currie caught two passes for 90 yards, while Hill, seeing his most extensive action since the Virginia game, had 14 carries for 105 yards. For the season, Currie has 11 catches for 242 yards and three touchdowns. His 22.0 yards per reception figure is best on the team. Hill has 204 yards in 35 attempts so far, a 5.8 average, best among the running backs.
Currie has jump-started the Tigers on the comeback trail each of the last two weeks. His 47-yard touchdown reception on a fourth-and-10 play from the Duke 47 brought Clemson from 14 points back to just a 24-17 deficit. The Tigers went on to a 34-31 win. At North Carolina, Clemson trailed 9-0 before he caught an 83-yard scoring pass from Charlie Whitehurst in the first quarter. That was the third longest pass play in Clemson history and the longest since 1978. It was the longest pass completion in the history of Kenan Stadium.
Hunt Groza Award Semifinalist
Clemson placekicker Aaron Hunt has been named as one of the 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, the honor presented to the top placekicker in college football.
The award will be presented by the FedEx Orange Bowl in a ceremony on Tuesday, December 10, at the Sheraton West Palm Beach Hotel at City Place in West Palm Beach, FL. The award is named in the honor of Lou Groza, who revolutionized the kicking position by creating the idea that a player could be exclusively used as a kicker. He played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns with whom he won four NFL championships and the NFL Player of the Year award in 1954.
Hunt has made 11 of 14 field goals, and 33 of 34 on extra points so far this season, and is now 31-42 on field goals and 122-126 on extra points for his Clemson career. He is currently 32nd in the nation in field goals per game and is 51st in scoring this year.
Hunt, now Clemson's career leader in extra points, is sixth in school history in scoring with 215 points. At Duke, he kicked a 21-yard field goal with eight seconds left to beat Duke, 34-31. It marked the second time in his career that he has won a game with a field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Hunt made 4-4 field goals in the win over Louisiana Tech. He became the first Clemson player to record four field goals in a game since 1998 when David Richardson had four in the season opener. Hunt's day included a 47-yard field goal, second longest boot of his career. Hunt had field goals of 47, 22, 37 and 38 yards, distances that total to 144 yards. That was the seventh most yards on made field goals in a single game in Clemson history.
Running Game Key to Success under Bowden
How important is the running game to Clemson under Tommy Bowden? The Tigers are 17-1 under Bowden when the Tigers rush for at least 200 yards. That stat was enhanced in the Ball State game when the Tigers gained 203 rushing in the victory over Ball State. Clemson gained a season high 256 yards on the ground at North Carolina, a reason Clemson was 8-8 on third down conversions in the second half.
Clemson has won 14 straight when rushing for at least 200 yards dating to the 1999 Georgia Tech game when the Tigers rushed for 231 yards, yet lost the contest, 45-42.
Clemson is 24-5 under Bowden when the Tigers win the rushing yardage stat. That includes a 4-1 record this year. Clemson is also 15-3 under Bowden when it has a 100-yard rusher.
Clemson had a pair of 100-yard rushers at North Carolina as Bernard Rambert had 19-106, a career high in yardage, while freshman Tye Hill added 14 for 105, also his career high. Hill had not carried the ball since running 32 yards for a score at Virginia back in early October. He scored on an eight-yard run in the second half.
That marked the first time since the 1996 Virginia game in Charlottesville that Clemson had two running backs in the same game gain over 100 yards. Kelton Dunnican and Raymond Priester accomplished that feat.
A third running back had a big game for the Tigers. Fullback Chad Jasmin had three catches for 47 yards and two scores in the win at North Carolina. It marked the first time since 1986 that a Clemson running back caught two touchdown passes in the same game. All-American Terrence Flagler had two receiving scores at Wake Forest that year.
Sharpe Leads offensive Line vs. UNC
Clemson had its top game of the season from its offensive line in the win at North Carolina. The line had a combined 46 knockdown blocks, including 13 intimidation blocks. The team leader in terms of intimidation blocks was junior walk-on center Tommy Sharpe.
The 255-pounder from Albany, GA had 11 knockdowns, including two intimidation blocks for his 64 plays of action. He graded 86 percent in the contest and had a big part in Clemson's 530-yard performance, a season high. Clemson also had a season high 256 yards on the ground and Sharpe had a lot to do with that.
Sharpe started the win over Georgia Tech earlier this year so Clemson is 2-0 in games he has started. He has virtually come out of nowhere. He does not even have a bio in the Clemson media guide.... He will have one next year.
200 of Each Means Clemson Victory
Balance is obviously a hallmark of any successful offense. That has been the case for Clemson over the years and under Tommy Bowden. Clemson gained 256 yards rushing and 274 passing in its victory over North Carolina, the second time this year Clemson has had at least 200 of each in a game.
In its 1031-game history, Clemson has a 40-0-1 record when it has at least 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the same game. The win at North Carolina marked the 14th time in Tommy Bowden's 46 games as Clemson coach that the Tigers had at least 200 of each. Clemson did it just 27 times in 985 games prior to his arrival. The only time Clemson did not win when it gained at least 200 of each was at Georgia Tech in 1976 when the two teams played to a 24-24 tie.
Clemson Has Depth at Quarterback
With the emergence of Charlie Whitehurst in the win over Duke, Clemson now has one of the deepest quarterback positions in Clemson history. How many schools in the nation can say they have two quarterbacks who have throw for four touchdowns in a game and have had over 300 yards total offense in a single game.
Clemson can make that statement. Simmons threw for a school record tying four touchdowns at North Carolina in 2000,while Whitehurst did it last week at Duke and did it again at North Carolina the very next week. Whitehurst had a 414-yard total offense day at Duke last week, while Simmons had a 343-yard day at Florida State earlier this year. Both rank among the top 10 single game performances in Clemson history.
Both players have also led Clemson to a come-from-behind victory. In 2000 as a freshman Simmons led Clemson to a 38-24 win at North Carolina. Clemson trailed by 17 points in that game and it is the second greatest comeback in Clemson history. Last week at Duke, Whitehurst led Clemson to victory after the Tigers trailed by as many as 14 points.
So far this season, Simmons has throw for 1503 yards and six touchdowns. Whitehurst has thrown for 874 yards and nine scores. Whitehurst has completed 62.7 percent of his passes, while Simmons has clicked on 58.1 percent of his passes.
Clemson vs. Maryland Series
Clemson holds a 27-21-2 advantage in the series with Maryland. The first game of the series was played in 1952, one year before both teams became charter members of the ACC. Maryland won each of the first four games in the series.
Clemson has won eight of the last nine games against the Terrapins, but fell to the eventual ACC Champions last year by a score of 37-20. Derrick Hamilton became the first Clemson player since Doug Thomas in 1990 to return a kickoff for a touchdown in the second half of that contest.
Clemson has a 15-10 record against Maryland in games played at Memorial Stadium. The last time Maryland defeated the Tigers in Clemson was a 34-31 victory back in 1985. Maryland won the ACC Championship that year under former coaching great Bobby Ross.
Clemson has won eight in a row over Maryland in Death Valley, including a 35-14 win in 2000. Clemson has outscored Maryland 251-47 in those eight wins combined, an average victory margin of 25.5 points per game. The average score is 31.4 to 5.9 during those eight games in Death Valley.
Perhaps the most significant win in the series for Clemson was in 1978 when Charley Pell led the Tigers to a 28-24 victory at Maryland, who was 9-1 at the time. Steve Fuller completed an 87-yard scoring pass to Jerry Butler in that game, still the second longest in Clemson history. Last week, when Charlie Whitehurst completed an 83-yard scoring pass to Airese Currie it was the longest completion for the Tigers since that game in 1978. Butler was in town the Thursday prior to the North Carolina game and spoke to the team. Apparently Currie listened intently.
Tommy Bowden boasts a 2-1 record against Maryland during his tenure at Clemson. He led Clemson to a 42-30 victory at College Park in his first year thanks to 435 yards of total offense by Woody Dantzler. Two years ago Clemson came away with a 35-14 victory at Homecoming thanks to 231 all-purpose running yards by Rod Gardner and three interceptions by Alex Ardley.
Clemson Veterans vs. Maryland
Altroy Bodrick (LB)-- Had season high 11 tackles in 44 plays in the 1999 game at Maryland. Had 2 tackles in 14 plays against Maryland in 2000. He did not play 2001 game due to a torn ACL.
Airese Currie (WR)-- Had 2 catches for 23 yards in the 2001 game at Maryland.
Nick Eason (DT)-- In 23 plays against Maryland in 1999, he had 3 total tackles and a tackle for loss. Had 1 tackle in 48 plays against Maryland in 2000. In the 2001 game against Maryland, he had 3 total tackles and a quarterback pressure in 43 plays.
Mo Fountain (DE)-- Had 1 tackle in 17 plays in the 2001 game at Maryland.
Aaron Hunt (PK)-- Was 2-2 in field goals with a long of 44 and 2-2 in extra points in the 2001 game.
Wynn Kopp (P)-- Had a 39.3 average on 3 punts with one going over 50 yards in the 2001 game.
John Leake (LB)-- Had 9 total tackles in 67 plays in the 2001 game against Maryland.
Brian Mance (CB)-- Had 1 tackle in only 5 plays in the 1999 game. Had 4 total tackles in 20 plays against Maryland in 2000. Had 6 tackles in 85 plays to go along with 66 kickoff return yards on 3 returns in the 2001 game at Maryland.
J.J. McKelvey (WR)-- Had 4-45 receiving against Maryland in 2001.
Bryant McNeal (DE)-- Had 1 tackle in 21 plays in the 1999 game. Had season high 5 tackles including a 10-yard sack in 49 plays in 2000 here at Death Valley. Had 2 tackles with a sack in 61 plays at Maryland in 2001.
Eric Meekins (SS)-- Had 5 tackles with a 5-yard tackle for loss in 76 plays in the 2001 game.
Jackie Robinson (WR)-- In 40 snaps he had 1 catch for 13 yards in the 2000 game. Did not play in the 2001 contest due to a pulled hamstring.
Willie Simmons (QB)-- In 6 plays he was 0-1 passing and rushed for 2 yards on 1 carry against Maryland in 2000. Against Maryland in 2001, he was 7-15 for 65 yards with a touchdown pass to Roscoe Crosby.
Rodney Thomas (LB)-- Had 9 tackles in 69 plays in the 2001 contest.
Khaleed Vaughn (DE)-- Had season high 2 tackles for loss, including a sack and 8 total tackles in 61 plays at Maryland in 2001.
Donnell Washington (DT)-- Had 7 total tackles in 40 snaps in the 2001 game.
Kevin Youngblood (WR)-- Had 1 catch for 7 yards in 14 plays here in Death Valley against Maryland in 2000. Missed the 2001 game due to a broken leg.
Last Year vs. Maryland
In front of the largest crowd at Byrd Stadium (52,462) since 1983, the Maryland Terrapins snapped an eight-game losing skid against Clemson and gained sole possession of first place in the ACC with a 37-20 defeat of the Tigers. Clemson had won 13 of the previous 14 meetings between the teams, had outscored Maryland 214-56 during that span and had not lost to the Terrapins since 1992.
The 13th-ranked Terrapins were led on offense by quarterback Shaun Hill, who threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Guilian Gary led Maryland with five receptions for 93 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown reception that gave the Terrapins a 17-6 lead before the half. Maryland's defense also played a crucial role in the win, forcing Woody Dantzler to throw a career-high three interceptions.
Charles Hafley and Chad Carson led Clemson's defense with a pair of outstanding efforts. Hafley finished the game with 20 tackles, while Carson tallied 16 tackles and two quarterback hurries. Khaleed Vaughn made eight tackles, two for a loss, and also sacked Shaun Hill for an eight-yard loss. Despite strong individual efforts on defense, however, Clemson's offense was unable to counter with its usual success.
Dantzler rushed for only 30 yards and was unable to throw a touchdown pass or rush for a touchdown for just the second time all year. Travis Zachery led the Tigers in rushing with 44 yards, while Chad Jasmin had his best game of the season with 34 yards in just five attempts. Clemson's scoring efforts were highlighted on special teams by a 100-yard kickoff return by Derrick Hamilton with 10:26 left to play in the game. It was the longest kickoff return for a score by a Tiger since 1903. Hamilton had a Clemson freshman record 205 all-purpose yards and he established a Clemson single game record for kickoff return average with a 71.5 average on two returns.
Maryland took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards down the field to open the scoring. Hill completed two first-down passes on third down, and two consecutive Clemson penalties allowed Riley to bull his way into the end zone from one-yard out. Dantzler tallied 19 yards rushing and 27 yards passing on the Tiger's ensuing drive, which ended with a 26-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt. Hunt would add a 44-yard field goal with 10:31 remaining in the second quarter.
Nick Novak responded with a 29-yard field goal effort to make the score 10-6, and on Maryland's next possession, Hill would cap off a six-play, 59 yard Terrapin drive with a score. Rolling to the left side of the field to avoid pressure from the Tiger defense, Hill broke free and found a wide-open Guilian Gary in the far left side of the end zone, making the score 17-6 Maryland before halftime.
Hill threw for 177 of his 189 passing yards in the first half, and his lone passing highlight of the second half came with 5:26 remaining in the third quarter on a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Perry. Simmons replaced Dantzler at quarterback following a 20-yard field goal by Novak to make the score 27-6, and his first pass was intercepted by R. Jones at the Clemson 30-yard line. Jones returned the ball down to the Clemson one-yard line, and Riley added his second score of the game on the ensuing play. Two of Maryland's touchdown drives were 10 yards or less.
Clemson would regain some momentum following Simmons' interception and the ensuing Maryland score. Hamilton took the ensuing kickoff near the right sideline, and after cutting up the sideline through would-be tacklers, he cut across the field at the Clemson 35-yard line and cruised to a 100-yard kickoff return down the left sideline for a touchdown. Clemson added another score in the fourth period when Simmons threw a touchdown pass to Roscoe Crosby, the freshman's first career TD.
Maryland Has Won Seven in a Row
Maryland is having another outstanding season under Ralph Friedgen. The Terps posted a 10-2 record and played in the Orange Bowl last year in winning the ACC. This year the Terps have an 8-2 record and have lost only to Notre Dame in the opener (22-0) and Florida State (37-10) in the third game. So, Friedgen is 18-4 in two years at Maryland and his only losses are to Notre Dame, Florida and Florida State (twice). What is very impressive is that he has lost just one game on an opponent's home field. Two of the losses are at neutral sites.
The season got off to a rocky start for Maryland as Bruce Perry was lost early due to injury. His loss had a direct effect on Maryland's 1-2 start. Perry was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year last year as he beat out Clemson's Woody Dantzler by a couple of votes. Perry played last week, his second game of the year and has 11 rushes for 42 yards for the season.
Chris Downs is the leading rusher for Maryland with 894 yards and 13 touchdowns, a very strong 6.3 average. Josh Allen has added 377 yards and eight scores. Scott McBrien has developed into an outstanding passer. He has a 145.5 passing efficiency, 13th best in the nation. He has thrown just five interceptions and that will be a challenge for the Clemson defense that has picked off 16, best in the ACC. O'Brien has completed 108 of 189 for 1753 yards.
O'Brien's favorite receiver is Scooter Monroe, who has 27-497 and two scores. Jafar Williams has added 21 catches. Nick Novak is another offensive weapon as a place kicker. He has made 15-18 field goals at 43 consecutive extra points for 88 points. We will see two of the Lou Groza semifinalists on display in Death Valley on Saturday.
Maryland's defense is led by E.J. Henderson. He led the ACC in tackles and tackles for loss last year and has had a similar effect on the Terps defense this year. Maryland is seventh in the nation in scoring defense.
Tigers Look for Win over Ranked Team
Clemson is looking for a win over a ranked team this season. Fourteen of the last 16 years and each of the last three seasons, Clemson has upset a top 25 team. Last year Clemson downed a ninth ranked Georgia Tech team in Atlanta, Clemson's highest ranked road win in 20 years.
Clemson is 0-3 against ranked teams this year. All three teams Clemson has played have been ranked 12th or better entering the game. Clemson has dropped decisions to ranked teams from Georgia, Florida State and NC State so far this year. Maryland enters the game ranked 19th in both polls and this will be Clemson's last chance at a ranked win. Clemson last defeated a ranked team at home in the final game of the 2000 season when Clemson downed South Carolina, 16-14.
Eason Has Seven Sacks
Nick Eason continued his outstanding final season in the win at North Carolina. The graduate student from Lyons, GA had six tackles to lead all defensive linemen and added two tackles for loss, including his seventh sack of the year.
Eason is now among the top five in the ACC in sacks and his total is the most by a Clemson defensive tackle since Trevor Pryce had 7.5 sacks in 1996. Pryce is now an All-Pro defensive tackle with the Denver Broncos.
For the season, Eason ranks fifth on the team in tackles with 50. He is second in tackles for loss overall with seven. Eason was Clemson's defensive MVP in 2000 when he had seven sacks as a defensive end. He had an injury plagued 2001, but has come back strong this year. For his career, Eason now has 15 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. His career high for a season is seven in 2000, so he has tied that figure. Overall, Eason now has 147 career tackles and has played in 45 games, 33 as a starter.
Clemson Overcomes Deficits
Clemson has overcame a nine-point deficit or more in each of its last three victories. Clemson trailed by nine points, 23-14, in the second half against Wake Forest on October 19th, then overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win over Duke on November 2. Finally, Clemson trailed 9-0 after a safety and a touchdown by North Carolina before winning 42-12.
When Clemson overcame the 14-point deficit at Duke, it marked just the second time in school history that the Tigers have overcome a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to gain victory. It was just the seventh time in Clemson history that the Tigers have trailed at any point in a game by 14 points or more, then came back to gain victory.
The only other time Clemson has overcome a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit was in 1980 at Virginia. Ironically, Clemson trailed by the exact same score as this past Saturday's game with Duke, 24-10, as the game entered the fourth period. But, Clemson scored the last 17 points of the game, all in the fourth period, to win the contest. Obed Ariri kicked a 52-yard field goal with just six seconds left to win. Bill Smith, now on Clemson's Board of Trustees, returned a blocked punt for a touchdown with just four minutes left to provide a key play during the comeback.
The Tigers trailed Duke 17-10 entering the fourth period, then Duke scored on a 54-yard touchdown pass to take a 24-10 lead with just 11:11 left. But, Clemson scored three touchdowns in a 4:05 span to take a 31-24 lead before eventually winning 34-31 on a 21-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt with eight seconds left.
Tommy Bowden coached Tiger teams have shown an ability to come back, this year and in previous years. Clemson has now overcome a 12-point deficit to gain victory 10 times in history and three of these comebacks have been coached by Bowden. The others took place at North Carolina in 2000 (17 down in first half) and at Georgia Tech (12 down in the first half) in 2001.
The Clemson record for points overcome for victory is 28, set at Virginia in 1992. Clemson trailed 28-0 with 32 minutes left in that game, then won 29-28. Clemson trailed by only nine points heading into the fourth period of that game. That is also the ACC record for a comeback in a game involving two conference teams.