The 10-Year Trend

CLEMSON - Are you a believer in trends? Like teams not covering the spread at home, or victories after an open week, or losses after just beating a ranked opponent?

Fans and the media alike always seem to like trends and point to them whenever a big game looms, and there is no doubt this Saturday's match-up with Maryland is a big game, so naturally I went looking for a trend.

At the end of it all, there was enough research to take me all the way back to 1958.

That season Coach Frank Howard's Clemson team started the preseason ranked 18th. The Tigers opened the year by posting victories over Virginia (20-15) and North Carolina (26-21). Both of those wins were in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium, so when the Tigers headed to College Park on October 4 it was their first road test of the year.

The contest was a hard fought one, but Clemson prevailed 8-0 and would climb to No. 2 in the polls heading into a road trip to Nashville to meet up with Vanderbilt.

In 1968 the Tigers opened the season with a 20-20 tie against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. After that, it was four loses in five games before finally getting back into the win column against N.C. State. So with a 2-4-1 record going into a road trip College Park, the Tigers could not have been feeling good about things.

Still, the defense played its best game of the season and the offense had just enough fire power to post a 16-0 Tiger victory.

By the time 1978 rolled around, Tiger nation was feeling pretty good about itself.

Charley Pell was looking to post the first back to back winning seasons since 1967-68. A winning record had been secured when the Tigers traveled to Byrd Stadium for the rights to the ACC Championship on November 18th.

Former Tiger LB Rahim Abdullah helped lead Clemson's defense to a 23-0 shutout of Maryland 10 years ago in Death Valley.
If Clemson could pull it off, it would be the first ACC crown in Tigertown in 11 years.

Well, thanks to a Steve Fuller to Dwight Clark pass of 62 yards for six, and a Fuller to Jerry Butler connection of 87 yards for another score, the Tigers did indeed prevail 28-24. The win secured a top 10 ranking and also produced a crowd at the GSP airport that is still talked about to this day.

By the way, if you would like to see some highlights of this game that have some great calls from Jim Phillips go here: LINK.

That moves us ahead 10 years to 1988.

Clemson was looking for its third straight ACC title as it headed off to College Park on November 12th. At the time, the Tigers were 5-1 in league play and ranked 16th in AP poll.

It was a game that would feature such names as Gary Cooper, Rodney Williams, Tracy Johnson, Terry Allen, Levon Kirkland, Jerome Henderson and Chris Gardocki. Not surprisingly, the Terrapins had few answers and Clemson won going away 49-25.

Victories over South Carolina and Oklahoma would follow as Clemson would finish the season 10-2 and ranked ninth in the country.

You can find some great highlights of this contest here: LINK.

In 1998 the Tigers would win only three games under Tommy West, but one of those would be against Maryland.

The Tigers had opened that season with a 33-0 shutout of the Furman Paladins, but after that it was four straight losses. Ron Vanderlinden was in his second season and was looking to avenge a 20-9 loss to the Tigers a year earlier. But Brandon Streeter hit Marcus Martin with a 22-yard touchdown pass and Brian Wofford with another 28-yard touchdown pass to supply the offense, while Chris Jones, Adrian Dingle and Rahim Abdullah led the defense in shutting out the Terps 23-0 in Death Valley.

So, here we are in 2008.

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