Virginia Tech Hokies (11-1, 7-1) vs. Clemson Tigers (9-3, 6-2)
ACC Championship Game
Time: 8 p.m. EST
Date: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011
Place: Charlotte, NC
Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
(Cap: 73,778, Open: 1996, Field: Bermuda)
TV: ESPN/ESPN3D and ESPN3
Radio: VT IMG, XM 84, Sirius 84
Spread: Virginia Tech -7
Weather: Low of 33, 20% Chance of Rain
Tickets: Sold Out
Clemson: The Tigers come into the ACC Championship game at 9-3, 6-2 in ACC play. Clemson looked like world-beaters after leaving Lane Stadium with a 23-3 win Oct. 1 to improve to 5-0. The Tigers have struggled since then and come into the ACCCG off a 34-13 loss to arch rival South Carolina. In that game, the Tigers averaged 2.3 ypc and 2.8 ypa as the South Carolina defensive line suffocated the Clemson offense. In the first eight games of the season, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 8.6 ypa with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions. In the last four games, he's completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 6.6 ypa with four touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Tigers gave up 16 sacks in the first eight games and 13 in the last four, all of them coming in their three losses. Turnovers have also been a problem for the Tigers in their last four games. They were +8 in turnover margin in their first eight games, but have lost the turnover battle in their last four, -10 overall.
Trends: Virginia Tech has won seven consecutive games and Clemson has lost two in a row and three of its last four. The Hokies are 4-8 against the spread this season and 3-3 in their last six games. The Tigers are 7-5 against the spread this season and 0-4 in their last four.
History Lesson: The Hokies are 12-18-1 all-time against Clemson and 5-4 under Frank Beamer. Clemson's win Oct. 1 snapped a five-game winning streak by the Hokies in the series. In that game, the Hokies were held to 4-for-16 on third downs and punter Scott Demler averaged 29.4 yards on eight punts. The Tiger defense sacked Logan Thomas four times and held the Hokies to 3.9 ypp.
What to Expect
- Expect turnovers and pressure to be the difference. Clemson has only forced two turnovers in its last four games and none in its last three. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech has committed four turnovers since its last meeting with Clemson and is +7 in those games. And as I mentioned before, Boyd has struggled the last four times with increased pressure while Clemson's front four caused hell for Logan Thomas in the first meeting.
- Expect the Hokies to need Thomas to be a factor in the ground game. David Wilson carried the ball 20 times (very close to his season average) for 6.2 ypc (right at his season average) the first time around against Clemson. But since then, the quarterback run game with Thomas has matured for the Hokies. If he can help sustain drives, especially on third-and-short, it could be a different story for their offense this time around.
- Expect a better Clemson passing game if Boyd has time to throw. Boyd completed 40.6 percent of his passes for 6.3 ypc in the first meeting and wide receiver Sammy Watkins was held to three catches for 38 yards. With Watkins expected to be close to 100 percent after suffering an injury against Wake Forest, look for those number to be better if Tech can't get to Boyd early and often. Tech's secondary hasn't been playing well of late and the Tigers have the weapons to take advantage of that.
Hokies Win If: They get pressure on Boyd and force turnovers.
Tigers Win If: The team from the first eight games shows up.
Dot-dot-dots: The Hokies have won nine consecutive games played in the state of North Carolina, dating back to their loss to East Carolina Aug. 30, 2008 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte ... Tech is 1-1 all-time at BOA Stadium, including the loss to ECU and a win in last year's ACCCG against FSU ... this is the third time Tech has had a rematch in the ACCCG ... in the previous two rematches (2007 and 2008), the Hokies avenged regular-season losses to Boston College ... Virginia Tech will serve as the road team in this game, meaning Clemson will have choice of home or road uniforms ... if the Tigers choose to wear their home uniforms, this will be the fifth time in as many appearances that the Hokies have worn road uniforms in the ACCCG.