Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Notes
Clemson Sports Information Department
Offense could be the order of the day again in Death Valley this Saturday. A look at the numbers shows that Clemson averages 40.2 points per game and Georgia Tech averages 39.2. Clemson averages 510.8 yards of total offense per game and Tech is at 487.6. The Tigers are more balanced with over 1000 yards rushing and 1500 yards passing already this year. Tech has 329 of its 487 yards per game basis on the ground. Both teams are especially proficient scoring in the red-zone as the Tigers have 17 touchdowns in 23 red-zone attempts, while Georgia Tech has scored 18 touchdowns in 24 red-zone attempts.
The Clemson vs. Georgia Tech series has been among the most competitive series in the ACC over the last 17 years. Twelve of the last 17 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 13 wins in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less.
This will be Dabo Swinney’s sixth game against Georgia Tech as Clemson coach in just his 54th career game as a head coach. Swinney is 1-4 against Georgia Tech, but three of the four 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 in 2009 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 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 has won seven of the last nine meetings and five of those seven wins have been by a touchdown or less. While Tech has won seven of the last nine, Georgia Tech has outscored Clemson by just four total points, 192-188.
Georgia Tech has a 50-25-2 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 16 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 43-13-2 advantage in the series in games there. Clemson has lost four 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 for the Tigers.
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 43-13-2 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 last year, 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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