Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Week in College Football: Week 4

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Clemson @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): A brief history of Clemson-Georgia Tech, as I remember it:
  • 2003: My freshman year and second ever college football game attended. The first was our 17-3 upset of Auburn two weeks prior, that involved rushing the field, tearing down the goal posts, and carrying phenom freshman QB Reggie Ball off the field. (Yes, that actually happened.) This game was considerably less fun, as we lost 39-3. I actually laughed out loud when I saw we passed 42 times. It's like, well, maybe we would've been better off if Reggie passed at modern-GT passing rates. Anyway!
  • 2004: Probably still a personal best vertical leap record for me, after the events described here happened. If you don't want to read all of that, essentially, we scored two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game and a freshman WR named Calvin Johnson became a bonafide star.
  • 2005: That link above contains a pretty good summary of that game as well. I remembered what happened on that play before I even read the description of it. Good times.
  • 2006: This game sucked, but if nothing else we still ultimately made the ACC Championship Game while Clemson was busy losing the division to Wake Forest.
  • 2007: The general rule of this series is this: we either barely win or lose by a ton. Clemson was 4-0 and ranked #13 coming in, but it was mostly our defense the held the day. Clemson was held to 71 yards rushing (excluding sacks) and we had the game's lone touchdown. I don't really remember anything about this, but hey, we won 13-3.
  • 2008: I was actually at this game, which, in a total coincidence, was Dabo Swinney's first game. I think it's pretty safe to say most everyone vastly underestimated him at the time (even the Clemson fans I was tailgating with), but it turns out the dude can recruit and knows how to delegate to his coordinators. His first game, however, was a 21-17 loss to Georgia Tech that featured 200 yards rushing and a game winning touchdown catch by Demaryius Thomas.
  • 2009, Part 1: I don't want to spoil anything, but you know what's better than beating Clemson once in a season? Beating them twice! This game featured many things, including a fake field goal of... dubious legality by us as we ran out to a 24-0 lead on a Thursday night. Clemson then spent the next 30 minutes of football scoring 27 unanswered points, including some very long touchdown passes caught by guys like C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford. However, Tech battled back and kicked two more FGs to get a 27-24 win.
  • 2009, Part 2: It's not very often when you score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:20 to go that you think to yourself, "we left too much time on the clock", but that's the way this game went. It was cold and miserable in Tampa and the entire game was nerveracking. Both teams finished with over 400 yards of total offense. C.J. Spiller averaged 11.7 yards per carry en route to 233 rushing yards and four TDs, but Tech actually finished with more total yards. Neither team punted. Yeah, it was that kind of game, but somehow they didn't score in that last 1:20 and we won 39-34.
  • 2010: This game was considerably less exciting, but in terms of the rivalry, this was a close, 27-13 loss, though looking at the stats the scoreline may flatter us a bit.
  • 2011: You know what's fun? Upsetting a top-10 ranked Clemson team. We were 7-2 coming in, but our record flattered us and we had just lost two straight to Miami and Virginia. In retrospect, this wasn't really an especially good Tech team, yet there's Tevin Washington (not ever the best fit for the system) averaging nearly 7 yards per carry against Clemson. Tech led 31-10 and then held on for dear life, but it mostly worked and we won 31-17. Clemson's national title hopes were derailed, but went to go to the Orange Bowl anyway for that infamous 70-33 shallacking.
  • 2012: 2012 GT was not very good. The 47-31 scoreline flattered us in this one.
  • 2013: Yeah, the top-10 Clemson thing doesn't work so good when they're at home. 55-31 including a garbage time touchdown.
  • 2014: We won 28-6 in rare November matchup, but even then it was pretty obvious we did well because Deshaun Watson got hurt early in the game and had to give way to Cole Stoudt, who promptly threw three interceptions including two pick-6's. He had only three completions to his own team. Suffice it to say, Clemson wound up with 190 yards of total offense. That's not good!
  • 2015: Yeah, so it turns out that Deshaun Watson guy is pretty good? By this time, the malaise of last year's annus horribilis had fully set in and we meekly lost 43-24.
What does any of that have to do with this? Probably not much. Both teams are coming off encouraging victories this year, but about the only way we have any chance is to come out on top of a shootout, I think. Clemson has played us pretty well the past few seasons, coinciding with Clemson's hiring of Brent Venables as their defensive coordinator, so it seems, shall we say, grim. We're 8-6 over the period described here, but we've only won one of our last four. Yet, it's college football, and somehow, somehow, history always seems to lurk, waiting to cast its shadow on the events of the present day. There's always a chance.

7:30: Wyoming @ Eastern Michigan (CBSS): Wyoming.

8:00: Texas Christian @ Southern Methodist (ESPN): TCU... probably.

9:00: Southern California @ Utah (FS1): So... a player maybe (probably not) punched Clay Helton. There's a quarterback controversy. Yep, things are just fine at USC. Just... fine, and really, they should be. Was anyone really expecting anything from them year? And their losses so far to Alabama and Stanford, which is not dishonorable at all! Yet, it seems pretty likely this where the wheels come off, as it were.

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