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The Clemson-Wake Forest Series

Sept. 19, 2000

By Bernie Merritt Clemson Sports Information Student Asst.Wake Forest Game Program – September 16, 2000

Anyone who’s anyone has heard the expression, “You can throw the record book out when these two teams meet.” However, how many of the “anyone who’s anyone” really understands the phrase. First and foremost, why would you throw the record book out when two teams meet? Do the teams share some secret that they have yet to tell the thousands of fans that will witness the contest? Better yet what is in the record book that would warrant throwing it out? Even with all the questions though, anyone who’s anyone knows that throwing out the record book in today’s game featuring Clemson and Wake Forest would be more than a 10-yard penalty.

The first statistic that sticks out the most is the fact that today is the 1,000th game in Clemson football history. It has taken the Tigers 105 years of football, including 564 wins, 390 losses and 45 ties to play 1,000 games.

Of the 1,000 games, the Tigers have faced Wake Forest the third most times with 65 games against the Demon Deacons. The 65 meetings rank behind South Carolina, which ranks first all-time with 97 games, and N.C. State, which is second with 68 games. Of the 564 victories in school history, the Demon Deacons account 50 wins, the second highest total against an opponent. The Tigers have beaten South Carolina a record 58 times.

The Clemson/Wake Forest series dates back to Nov. 4, 1933, when Clemson defeated Wake Forest 13-0 in the seventh game of that season, in a contest played in Charlotte, NC. The teams would not face each other again until the 1935 season, but since then, the Tigers and the Demon Deacons have faced each other every year. Clemson won seven of the first eight games against Wake Forest, outscoring the Demons Deacons 153-20. Wake Forest would rebound though, reeling off six straight wins starting in 1942 with a 19-6 victory in Winston Salem, NC, the third time ever the two teams had played in the city. The Demon Deacons however, have only won consecutive games once, in 1992 and 1993, since that six-game winning streak. Before the 1992 and 1993 seasons, the Tigers were victorious in 38 of the 43 contests played, including a 15-game winning streak dating from 1971 to 1991.

Also notable is the fact that Clemson has won 20 of the last 23 games against Wake Forest. Making matters worse for the Demons Deacons today, Clemson has beaten Wake Forest more than any other team in Death Valley since the facility was opened in 1942. In that first game at Death Valley in 1943 though, Wake Forest claimed victory with a 41-12 defeat of the Tigers. That game coincidentally is also the largest Wake Forest win in the history of the series. While most people necessarily won’t remember that game in 1943, it is almost guaranteed though that everyone will remember Clemson’s largest win.

It took place during the National Championship season of 1981 in a game that will probably never be matched. At the time the Tigers were 7-0, ranked third in the country and were one week away from facing #8 North Carolina, in a game that would pit two top-10 ACC schools for the first time in league history. The Tigers however were doing anything but looking ahead. Clemson offense would explode that Halloween day, breaking 21 school, stadium and conference records, including 536 yards rushing and 756 yards of total offense, in the 82-24 Clemson victory. Eleven different players had rushing yardage and nine different Tigers scored.

When Craig Crawford scored on a 72-yard run, no one in the 80,000 plus in attendance or in the press box knew who he was because he was not even on the pre-game roster. During the game Clemson was 12-12 on third-down conversions. Quarterback Homer Jordan passed for 180 yards, including 7-161 to Perry Tuttle, whose 75-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the third period gave Clemson a 55-14 lead in probably the most famous Clemson-Wake Forest contest.

While Clemson dominated most every year from 1950-1990, Wake Forest has stepped up the competition during the 1990’s. Most every game from 1970-90 was a double digit Tiger win, with Clemson winning 37 games and sustaining streaks of 15, 10, six and five games. However, the ’90’s saw the trend turn a bit. Since 1992, single digits have decided three of the eight games, while eight of the previous nine before 1992 were decided by more than two touchdowns. Wake Forest won three of the games in the 1990’s, the most in any decade since the 1940’s.

Since Wake Forest’s resurgence, the Tigers have made a point to step up their defensive play. In 10 of the last 11 games, Clemson has held Wake Forest to less than 10 points including last year’s 12-3 victory, the 50th victory for Clemson against Wake Forest. It was in that defensive struggle that Clemson had to use injured relief quarterback Brandon Streeter to preserve the win and hold off the pesky Demon Deacons. Clemson has also kept up their impressive play at home as they have gone 28-7 overall versus Wake Forest including a 24-7 mark in games played at Death Valley.

While football fans may consider the Clemson/Wake Forest game insignificant in terms of records, it is still quite possible to consider this series played every year since 1935 a great tradition.

So, on the 66th anniversary of Clemson/Wake Forest and the 1,000th game in Tiger football history, remember the records. If anyone says “you can throw the record books out on this one,” make sure he or she is reminded that Clemson/Wake Forest is nothing more than just a football game without the record book.