Nov. 9, 1999
By BRIAN OREFICE AP MegaSports Writer
Clemson faithful surely expected an improvement when the school decided to hire Tommy Bowden as its new football coach last season. But even the most optimistic fan couldn’t have asked for more than this.
The Tigers will look to become the first ACC team to make a one-season, six-place jump in the standings Saturday afternoon when they travel to Atlanta to take on Joe Hamilton and No. 13 Georgia Tech.
A year ago, Clemson (5-4, 5-2 ACC) finished the schedule mired in seventh place with a 1-7 league mark. As a result, Tommy West was fired and the university hired Bowden away from Tulane following an 11-0 regular season.
Bowden brought some of that Green Wave success with him to Death Valley. The Tigers have won three of their last four, with the only setback a 17-14 loss to perennial conference champ Florida State, coached by Tommy’s father Bobby.
Last Saturday, Clemson erupted for its highest offensive output in nine years with a 58-7 thrashing of Duke. Quarterback Brandon Streeter returned from a broken collarbone in the game and running back Travis Zachery ran for four touchdowns.
Zachery, who is fifth in the ACC in rushing, ran for 141 yards against the Blue Devils and could be in store for another big game against a Tech defense that gave up 213 yards and two scores to Virginia’s Thomas Jones last week.
The 41-35 loss to the Cavaliers dropped the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-2) six places in the poll and provided a severe blow to their chances of being part of the Bowl Championship Series.
Despite the defeat, Georgia Tech possesses the nation’s top-rated offense, averaging 508 yards and 41 points per game. The attack is triggered by Hamilton, the country’s top-rated passer.
“We lost a game, a big game, and it dashed a lot of goals, but we’ve still got three games to play,” said the Heisman hopeful, who became the ACC’s career total yardage leader with 9,478 in the loss.
If history is any indication, Saturday’s contest should be a close one. Each of the last three meetings between the schools has been determined by three points, with Tech winning the last two.
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