Sept. 30, 2011
CLEMSON, SC – Let the “Shock the World Tour Begin.” At least that’s what the No. 13 Clemson Tigers will be trying to do this Saturday when they visit Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium and the 11th-ranked Hokies.
The tour unofficially got on the way two weeks ago when Clemson upset then No. 21 Auburn to snap what was then the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games. It followed that up with an impressive 35-30 victory over then No. 11 Florida State to start the ACC season.
Now, the Tigers (4-0) will try to do something that has never been done in the history of the ACC – win a third straight game over a ranked opponent.
“That right there tells you it is hard to do,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. What makes it even harder is the fact the Tigers will try to do it at Lane Stadium, one of the hardest and more intimidating venues for a visiting team in college football.
“I saw that place when I was a senior in high school, and I was very impressed by what they bring,” Clemson right tackle Landon Walker said. “If we can go on the road and be successful in that environment, watch out! It’s the shock the world tour.”
To shock the world, Clemson must first shock those in Lane Stadium, a place it has not won at since a 27-7 victory in 1989. Though the stadium holds just 66,223–a far cry smaller than the likes of Death Valley and Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL, the fans sit right on top of the field and scream like crazy from the time the team enters the field to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” until the scoreboard displays triple zeros under the time.
“You hear guys talk about how they really can’t hear the crowd when they are on the field, but I promise you, on third down at Lane Stadium, we are going to be able to hear the crowd,” Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen said.
Actually, Allen and the Clemson offense is likely to hear keys jingling, indicating it’s a key play for the Virginia Tech defense. Either way, it is going to be loud and something different for an offense that has had the benefit of the home crowd the first four weeks of the season.
“Whenever you flip those rolls and they are quiet and screaming for you on offense, to they are screaming at you and they are loud, that’s different,” Allen said. “The noise is going to be a challenge.”
Beating Virginia Tech is a challenge no matter where you play. The Hokies are the only team in the country to win at least 10 games for seven straight seasons. Under Head Coach Frank Beamer, they are 19-1 in conference openers, including a 7-0 mark since joining the ACC in 2004.
Virginia Tech also boasts a 12-game winning streak in the ACC and a 15-game regular season winning streak – all factors that will make things challenging for the Tigers when the game kicks off at 6 p.m. (ESPN2) on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a hectic environment,” Clemson center Dalton Freeman said. “It is something you have a hard time preparing for evening with all the crowd noise at practice. It is going to be crazy. You really don’t know how to react until you get into the stadium and in that environment.”
But, even with the raucous crowd and the fact it will be their first road game of the season, the Tigers are confident they can be successful.
“Virginia Tech has the reputation of intimidating other teams and when you come to Blacksburg you’re supposed to be scared with `Enter Sandman’ entrance, the band in the tunnel and the crowd,” Walker said. “But, you can take two things from that. You can either be intimidated and be like everyone else, or you can be uncommon. You can be that team that takes that energy and harnesses it and uses it to be successful.
“I have done that in the past and have been tremendously focused on taking the crowds energy and trying to shut them up. We can use that to our advantage as an offense to be able to go score and just quiet that crowd and put your finger over your mouth when the game is over with and say you did it. If you can do that in Blacksburg, then you can do it anywhere.”
And so the tour begins.
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