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Saturday, October 20, 2012
Greetings from Death Valley

By Heather Dinich

CLEMSON, S.C. -- This is the REAL Death Valley, right?

As far as Clemson fans are concerned it is.

It's an absolutely spectacular fall football Saturday here. The Clemson fans were zipping down I-85 South early this morning, and the tailgates were set up more than three hours before kickoff. This is not a sleepy football town. I tweeted earlier that if Clemson played all night games, the Tigers might never lose at home. They shouldn't lose this afternoon, either -- not with the matchup against Virginia Tech's secondary favoring Clemson, and not with the concerns the Hokies have on their offensive line. Those will be the two main keys to the game, of course along with quarterback play between Virginia natives Tajh Boyd and Logan Thomas -- two friends and great competitors.

I spoke with Thomas this week, and he said he was confident in Michael Via at center, and it should help the Hokies to have David Wang at left guard. Virginia Tech football (@VT_football) tweeted that, barring a setback in warm-ups, Wang should be able start. If the Hokies can continue the success they had running the ball against Duke with true freshman J.C. Coleman, that might be their best defense -- to sustain some drives and keep DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins off the field as much as possible. That's going to be a tough matchup for the Hokies' young secondary. If they play man, they might just get burned.

It's an important game for both teams -- one neither can really afford to lose. Virginia Tech, though, is facing even more pressure, considering the Hokies have yet to win a game away from Lane Stadium this season and they lost to Clemson twice last season. A win in Death Valley would prove last week's three quarters against Duke were legit.