NOTES: Clemson at Virginia

Notes headed into Saturday's matchup in Charlottesville, Va.

Clemson vs. Virginia Series
Clemson holds a commanding 35-8-1 lead in the series with Virginia, but the Cavaliers hold 8-6-1 advantage since 1990, including a 30-10 victory at Charlottesville in 2004, the last time the two teams met. Clemson won the game prior to that in 2003 by a 30-27 score in overtime at Clemson.

The Tigers won the first 29 games of the series before Virginia cracked the win column with a 20-7 victory in Charlottesville in 1990. Ironically, Clemson's first win in the history of the series (in 1955) was also by a 20-7 score.

* Clemson's 29-game winning streak between 1955-90 is tied for the fourth longest winning streak in NCAA history for one team over another. The record is 43 in a row held by Notre Dame over Navy, a streak that ended in 2007. * Virginia has gained its most success against Clemson when the game has been in September, an example of the Cavaliers traditional good start to a season. Virginia has celebrated five of its eight wins over the Tigers in the month of September, including its last win in Death Valley in 2001, a game it won with just one second left. Virginia is 5-1 against Clemson in the month of September since 1990, but just 3-5-1 in October and November since that year.

* Overall, Clemson is 25-3-1 against Virginia in October and November all-time, but just 10-5 against the Cavs in September. Clemson is 19-3-1 against Virginia in Death Valley and 15-5 in Charlottesville. Clemson won in Richmond in 1971, 32-15, the only neutral site game in the history of the series.

* The only tie in the series took place in 1991, a 20-20 score at Clemson that was also played on homecoming. The Tigers had 511 yards of total offense in that game and did not win, the only game in Clemson history in which Clemson picked up at least 500 yards, yet did not win the game.

* Clemson was 3-3 against Virginia under Tommy Bowden. Bowden picked up his first win as a Clemson head coach in 1999 against George Welsh and the Cavaliers, 33-14 in a game at Clemson. Clemson led that game 33-0, 35 minutes into the game. In 2000, Woody Dantzler led the Tigers to victory with a dazzling performance. Dantzler rushed for 220 yards and passed for 154 leading Clemson to a 31-10 victory.

* The two teams have been ACC rivals since that first meeting in 1955, but the two teams have not played every year since the league was formed in 1953. The two teams did not play in 1961, 1962, 1967, 1968, 1975, 1976, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Clemson Defense in Top 25 in Three Areas
Clemson is now ranked in the top 25 in three of the four major categories. Each of the last three years Clemson has finished the season in the top 25 in all four major categories, three of the five years in school history that has been accomplished.

So far this year, Clemson is 16th in scoring defense, allowing 18.2 points per game, stands sixth in pass defense, allowing 163.50 yards per game and 22nd in total defense, allowing 304.4 yards per outing. Clemson is 65th in rushing defense, allowing 140 yards a game, so it will be very difficult to reach a top 25 ranking in that fourth category.

Clemson has played well on defense all year. One of the most telling stats of their performance is defense after a turnover. Clemson ranks in the ACC with a -0.70 turnovers per game figure. Clemson has committed 24 turnovers and gained just 17. Despite that margin, Clemson leads its opponents in terms of points off turnovers this year, 66-52. There have been three interceptions of Clemson passes returned for scores, so the defense has allowed just 31 points when they have come on the field after an offensive turnover.

Clemson's offense did not have a turnover against Duke and the Tigers forced two on defense. It was the first game this year that Clemson did not commit a turnover. Clemson has reduced its turnover total from 6 to 4 to 2 to 0 in the four games under Dabo Swinney.

Groh Has Led Two Schools vs. Tigers
Al Groh has served as the head coach for two different schools against Clemson. He had an 0-6 record against the Tigers as Wake Forest coach from 1981-86. He has a 3-1 record as Virginia coach against the Tigers so he had an overall 3-7 record against the Tigers. His only loss as Virginia head coach was an overtime contest, 30-27 at Clemson in 2003, Dabo Swinney's first year as wide receivers coach with the Tigers.

Groh will become just the second coach in history to serve as head coach of two different schools for at least five games at each school. The only other coach to lead a program at least five times against Clemson with two different schools is Bill Dooley. Dooley was 4-4-1 with North Carolina against Clemson from 1968-76 and was 0-5 as head coach at Wake Forest against Clemson from 1987-91. Dooley was also 0-4 against Clemson as Virginia Tech head coach from 1978-84.

All In
When Dabo Swinney took over as Clemson head coach, one of his first tasks was to connect his team with its community, on campus and off. He has been successful in this endeavor on many fronts. Here is a rundown on some of the things he and the Tigers have done in this area since he took over as interim head coach on October 13.

Oct. 18—Began the Tiger Walk Tradition whereby the Clemson team gets off the bus on gameday at Perimeter road at the entrance to Lot 5, the parking lot behind the West Endzone. Team then walks through the parking lot and greets Clemson fans who line a path for the team. Fans were 10 deep on either side for the entire 200-yard walk.

Oct. 21—Swinney invited Clemson student body to attend practice the Tuesday of Clemson's open date week in October. Over 700 student attended, and he had three Clemson students attempt a field goal against a live rush, field a punt and attempt a punt.

Oct. 22—Swinney cancelled practice (open date week) and brought entire team to a children's hospital in Greenville to visit young patients fighting cancer.

Nov. 12—After a Wednesday night team meal prior to the Duke game, Swinney and members of the team brought 40 pizzas to Clemson students as the waited in line in tents for tickets to the Clemson vs. South Carolina game.

Nov. 12-13—Members of the Clemson football team registered on the National Bone Marrow Registry after practice in the Clemson locker room. Aaron Kelly and his roommate, Trey Robinson led the drive.

Nov. 14—Took team to Tigerama, Clemson's homecoming pep rally and entertainment show at Littlejohn Coliseum the Friday night before the Duke game. Swinney and players Michael Hamlin and Aaron Kelly spoke to the crowd. It was the first time a Clemson football team attended the event.

Clemson Has Comeback History Against Virginia
Clemson has come back from a deficit of 13 points or more to win 10 times in its history and four of the victories have come against Virginia. Two of those wins have taken place in Charlottesville and two in Clemson.

Clemson's greatest comeback in history took place at Virginia in 1992 when it overcame a 28-0 deficit with 32 minutes left to win 29-28. Louis Solomon, now a high school coach in New Jersey, led that comeback with an option offense. His 64-yard run just before halftime gave Clemson some momentum going into the locker room at halftime. Nelson Welch booted a 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left to provide the winning margin. Virginia was undefeated and ranked 10th in the nation heading into that game. That remains the greatest comeback in ACC history involving two conference teams.

Clemson's greatest comeback in Death Valley also took place against Virginia. Clemson trailed Virginia by 17 points at home in 1966, but came back to win 40-35. That was the first game that Howard's Rock was present in Death Valley. Coincidence?

Clemson also overcame a 14-point deficit to Virginia in 1980 to win 27-24 in Charlottesville. Bill Smith, now on the Clemson Board of Trustees, returned a block punt for a touchdown to provide a key play in the victory. Obed Ariri then booted a 52-yard field goal with six seconds left.

Spiller Sets Clemson Reception Yardage Record
C.J. Spiller has 379 receiving yards for the season, including 268 over the last three games. He now needs just 36 receiving yards to establish a Clemson season record for receiving yards by a running back in one year. Travis Zachery had 45 receptions for 414 yards in 2001 when he caught passes from quarterback Woody Dantzler.

Spiller has had two 100-yard receiving games over the last three games. There had been just two 100-yard receiving games by Clemson running backs over the first 112 years of Clemson football. In 1948, Ray Mathews had 105 receiving yards against Mississippi State and in 1950 Jackie Calvert had 100 receiving yards against Duquesne.

Spiller had 105 yards receiving at Boston College on November 1 on six receptions and 108 yards on seven catches against Duke. The seven receptions tied a Clemson single game record. Dick Bukowsky had seven catches against Florida State in 1970.

On a career basis, Zachery is Clemson's career leader among running backs in receptions and reception yards. He had 105 receptions for 1057 yards and nine touchdowns. Spiller has 78 catches for 860 yards and seven touchdowns. Spiller is second to Zachery in all three categories in terms of career reception statistics among running backs.

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