Oct. 17, 2008
The ACC’s Most Competitive Series The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech series has been the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 12 years. Nine of the last 12 games have been decided by five points or less, including a six-game streak between 1996-01 in which every game was decided by exactly three points. That might be a first in college football history. We aren’t talking by three points or less, but exactly three points.
Clemson was victorious the last time the two teams met at Clemson behind the running of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The duo combined for 332 yards rushing and four touchdowns, three rushing, in the 31-7 Clemson win.
Georgia Tech was victorious in 2005 in the lowest scoring game in the series in 14 years when Tech won 10-9 in Atlanta. That was Clemson’s only loss over the last seven games of the 2005 season. Clemson cut the margin to 10-9 on Jad Dean’s third field goal of the game with 5:36 left, but the Tigers were hurt by a holding penalty on their last possession. Tech won last year in Atlanta, 13-3 and has won three of the last four meetings.
Georgia Tech has a 46-24-2 lead in the series with Clemson dating to a 23-0 Tiger win in Augusta, GA in 1898, just the 11th game in Clemson football history. In fact, Clemson won the first four games of the series, including games in 1902 and 1903 when John Heisman was at the helm. Clemson defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta 73-0 in 1903 with Heisman as head coach. Heisman then left Clemson after that season to become Georgia Tech’s head coach.
Clemson has a 13-12 advantage in the series, regardless of site, since Tech joined the ACC in 1983. Tech actually joined for the 1979-80 academic year, but did not compete for the football championships, nor play Clemson as an ACC game, until 1983.
Here are some other series highlights: Clemson won three in a row from 2001-03, including the 2003 game in Atlanta by a 39-3 score. That was Clemson’s largest margin of victory in the series since a 73-0 Tiger win in Atlanta in 1903 when Heisman was the Clemson coach and is the only game in the series since 1995 that has not been decided by 10 points or less.
The Tigers have a 9-5 advantage in games at Clemson, but Georgia Tech leads 41-13-2 in games played in Atlanta. Every game between the two teams between 1907-74 era was held in Atlanta. Clemson’s only wins in those 36 meetings came in 1907, 1936, 1945 and 1969. The 1969 victory was Frank Howard’s final season as head coach. Howard won just twice in his career in Atlanta.
The first time Georgia Tech played in Clemson’s stadium was 1974, a 21-17 Clemson victory. Clemson won that game on a three-yard touchdown pass from Mike O’Cain to All-America tight end Bennie Cunningham with 8:26 left.
Woodrow Dantzler had one of the best all-around games of his career with 164 yards rushing and 254 yards passing in the Clemson victory in 2001. He threw for two scores and ran for two, including a 38-yard “Hail Mary Run” on the last play of the first half to cut Tech’s lead to 19-14 at intermission. His 63-yard scoring pass to J.J. McKelvey with 1:58 left put Clemson ahead by three, but Tech tied the count with a 20-yard field goal with just six seconds left. Dantzler’s “walk-off” six-yard touchdown in overtime gave Clemson the win.
Clemson has had just two games in its history in which both teams scored in the 40s. They have both taken place at Georgia Tech. Tech won 45-42 in 1999 and Clemson won 47-44 in overtime in 2001 in Atlanta.
One of the most unusual statistical occurrences in Clemson history took place during Clemson’s 33-12 victory over Georgia Tech in 1987 at Clemson. Clemson entered the game with a streak of 999 consecutive combined punt returns and kickoff returns without a touchdown dating to 1970. Then, on the 1000th return, Donnell Woolford raced 78 yards with a punt return for a touchdown. Then, later in the game Joe Henderson returned a kickoff return 95 yards for a touchdown. It is the only game in Clemson history that the Tigers have returned a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown .
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