Saturday, October 1, 2011
Clemson, Virginia Tech streaks on the line
By Jason Starrett
The 13th-ranked Clemson Tigers travel to Blacksburg on Saturday to take on No. 11 Virginia Tech (ESPN2, 6 ET). Clemson leads the all-time series 17-12-1, but has lost five straight games against the Hokies, all by 17 points or more. In their last meeting in 2007, Virginia Tech returned a punt, a kickoff, and an interception for touchdowns en route to a 41-23 win in Death Valley.
Both teams come into Saturday’s ACC contest 4-0 and ranked in the AP Top 15. It’s the first time Clemson has started 4-0 since 2007 and the first time Virginia Tech has done it since 2006. Both the Hokies and Tigers failed to reach 5-0 in those seasons, each losing their fifth game of the year to Georgia Tech.
In its past two games, Clemson has defeated No. 21 Auburn and No. 11 Florida State, the first time Clemson has beaten ranked teams in consecutive games since 2005 (No. 17 Florida State and No. 19 South Carolina). Clemson has never beaten ranked teams in three consecutive games in the program’s history.
Virginia Tech comes in with a streak of its own, winning 12 straight ACC contests, including the 2010 ACC Championship game. Last season, the Hokies became the first team since Florida State in 2000 to go unbeaten in ACC play.
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd enters the weekend leading the ACC in pass efficiency (173.8, 11th in FBS) and passing yards per game (313.8, 12th in FBS). Boyd will face a stiff test Saturday as the Hokies lead the ACC in pass efficiency defense (88.6, 6th in FBS) and are ranked among the top 10 nationally in sacks (14) and interceptions (seven).
Boyd has been successful throwing the ball downfield, especially when compared to his opponent. Hokies QB Logan Thomas has completed just more than one-third of his passes and has yet to throw a touchdown on throws 10 or more yards down field; Boyd has completed more than half of those throws and has yet to be picked off.
When Virginia Tech has the ball it will look to the ground game and junior RB David Wilson. Wilson ranks second in the ACC and seventh nationally in rushing yards per game (129.0) and is tied for third in the conference with five rush touchdowns.
Since Frank Beamer took over as head coach in 1987, the Hokies are 178-32-2 when outrushing their opponent. Virginia Tech has not lost a game to an FBS school when outrushing them since 2008 (Boston College) and has outrushed its opponents 847-to-172 in four games this season.