Oct. 27, 2011
Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Complete Game Notes
The ACC’s Most Competitive Series The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech series has been among the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 16 years. Twelve of the last 16 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.
Eleven of Georgia Tech’s last 12 wins in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less. Clemson won last year’s game 27-13.
This will be Dabo Swinney’s fifth game against Georgia Tech as Clemson coach in just his 43rd career game as a head coach. Swinney is 1-3 against Georgia Tech, but all three of his losses have been close. In 2008, in his first game as a head coach (he took over the Monday before the Saturday game), Georgia Tech defeated the Tigers 21-17 in a thrilling game at Death Valley.
In 2009, Georgia Tech won in Atlanta in the regular season 30-27 and in the ACC Championship game in Tampa by a 39-34 score. That ACC championship game was a bizarre affair as neither team punted and both teams gained at least 300 yards rushing. It was the first game in Clemson history that both teams didn’t punt, and the only FBS game in college football last year in which both teams had at least 300 yards rushing.
Clemson was victorious in 2006 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 at Clemson, a day in which ESPN’s College Gameday was in town for the first time. Davis had a career high 216 yards rushing that day and Spiller became the first player in Clemson history with a touchdown rush and a touchdown reception of at least 50 yards in the same game.
Georgia Tech was victorious in 2005 in the lowest scoring game in the series in 15 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.
Georgia Tech has won six of the last eight meetings and five of those six wins have been by a touchdown or less. While Tech has won six of the last eight, Clemson has outscored Georgia Tech over those eight games (171-161).
Georgia Tech has a 49-25-2 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.
Since Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1983 Georgia Tech has won 15 and Clemson has won 14, another example of the competitiveness of the series. 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.
Clemson has struggled in Atlanta over the years as Tech has a 42-13-2 advantage in the series in games there. Clemson has lost three in a row in Atlanta with the last win coming in 2003 by a 39-3 score. Clemson running backs coach Tony Elliott had a touchdown reception in that game.
Last Year vs. Georgia TechClemson Downs Georgia Tech, 27-13Andre Ellington scored three touchdowns and gained 257 all-purpose running yards, to lead Clemson to a 27-13 win over Georgia Tech last year. The victory broke a four-game winning streak in the series by the Yellow Jackets, who entered the game second in the nation in rushing with a 5-2 record. Clemson had not won in the series since a 31-7 victory in 2006 at Clemson.
Ellington scored on Clemson’s first possession of the game on a 55-yard run, then scored from 42 yards out in the second period. He also scored on a 10-yard pass reception in the third period. His 257 all-purpose yards ranked ninth best in Clemson history for a single game at the time.
Clemson rushed for 236 yards overall, just six fewer than the Yellow Jackets, who came into the game averaging 328 per game. Jamie Harper added 55 yards in 11 carries and 38 more receiving for 93 yards from scrimmage. Nuke Hopkins had four receptions for 50 yards to lead the receivers. Quarterback Kyle Parker had an efficient game by hitting 17-27 for 167 yards and a score.
Clemson did not commit a turnover for the third straight game and forced one Tech miscue. Clemson’s defense held Tech to just 13 points and one touchdown. Defensive end Andre Branch moved to a linebacker spot, as Brandon Maye was out most of the week due to a calf injury and could not practice. Mallicah Goodman, who started for the first time, had nine tackles and Jonathan Meeks, who also started for the first time, added nine. Da’Quan Bowers had two more tackles for loss and six tackles.
Clemson’s defense held Josh Nesbitt to just two yards rushing, below his 93 yards per game on the ground coming into the game.
Clemson controlled the line of scrimmage in the fourth controlling the ball for 12:20. Clemson had a game clinching 15-play drive for 64 yards that took 7:36 off the clock. The drive led to a field goal that put Clemson up by two touchdowns. Clemson converted 9-15 on third down for the game, its best third-down performance of the season.
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 John Heisman was the Clemson coach. The Tigers have a 10-6 advantage in games at Clemson, but Georgia Tech leads 42-13-2 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 two teams have played on a neutral site just three times. Clemson won a 23-0 victory in 1898 in Augusta, GA and a 41-5 win in Greenville, SC in 1899. Georgia Tech won the ACC title game in Tampa in 2009, 39-34. The first time Georgia Tech played at Clemson Memorial stadium was 1974, a 21-17 Clemson victory. Clemson won that game on a three-yard touchdown pass from Mike O’Cain (current Virginia Tech quarterback coach) 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 Atlanta 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” 11-yard touchdown in overtime gave Clemson the win. Clemson has had just three games in its history in which both teams scored in the 40s. The first two took place at Georgia Tech. Tech won 45-42 in 1999 and Clemson won 47-44 in overtime in 2001 in Atlanta. The third game took place just two weeks ago, a 56-45 Clemson win at Maryland. 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 one of just two games in Clemson history that the Tigers have returned a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown . The other took place in 2009 when Clemson defeated Middle Tennessee State. C.J. Spiller had arguably the best game of his Clemson career against Georgia Tech in the 2009 ACC Championship game. The unanimous All-American had a career high 233 yards rushing in 20 attempts and scored four touchdowns. He had 301 all-purpose yards and was named the MVP of the game even though Clemson lost 39-34. It is the only time a player on the losing team has been named the MVP of any conference championship game.
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